Mark Milley: The US Major General Says Confederate Leaders Committed ‘Treason’ and Points to Their Support for Renaming Bases

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, did not hold back in an appearance before the Armed Service Committee of the House of Representatives, claiming that “those officers turned their backs on their oath,” referring to the names on the bases. . “It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the stars and stripes, against the United States Constitution.”

Milley added that “how we should do it is as important as how we should do it,” and said he recommended establishing “a commission of people to carefully analyze the bases, the statues, the names and all of this.” to see if we can have a rational and mature discussion “on this topic.

The comments could take him on a collision course with Trump, who has made it clear that he will block any plans to rename the bases and has made the exploitation of racial and cultural divisions a key tenet of his reelection strategy. Last month, the President tweeted that “these monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a great American heritage … Therefore, my administration will not even consider renaming these magnificent and legendary military installations.”
The president has also threatened to veto a defense spending bill that must be passed if it contains an amendment, initially offered by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and added with the support of some Republicans, calling for the removal of the names of the Confederate leaders of all military assets (base, installation, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, or other type of equipment) within three years.

“I personally believe that the original decisions to name those bases after the Confederate generals … were political decisions,” said Milley, “and they are going to be political decisions today.”

Ban on drafting the Pentagon to display the Confederate flag on the bases

Milley’s comments are presented as a draft policy document for a Defense-wide ban on displaying the Confederate flag that has been circulating in the upper echelons of the military, according to a defense official directly familiar with the document. .

Marine Corps Commander General David Berger and the head of US forces in Korea, General Robert Abrams, have already instituted bans on flag displays at marine bases and in South Korea. The military chiefs of the Navy, Army and Air Force and their civilian counterparts have been working on similar bans.

The Army said Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had been open to having a “bipartisan conversation” about the facility’s name change. According to an Army official, it would be necessary to consult with the White House, as well as with Congress and state and local governments.

Ban on drafting the Pentagon to display the Confederate flag on the bases

Milley appeared before the committee alongside Defense Secretary Mark Esper for a hearing on the military’s role in civil law enforcement following protests nationwide in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

Both Milley and Esper gave a completely different tone to Trump on the issues of race and inclusion in recent weeks.

During the hearing, Milley expressed emotional outrage at the Floyd murder and framed systematic racism as a problem that jeopardizes military effectiveness.

“I have a lot of police in my family. And personally I am outraged by the brutal and foolish murder of George Floyd,” said Milley. “We as a nation and as a military are still fighting racism, and we have a lot of work to do. We, who wear the fabric of our nation, understand that cohesion is a force multiplier; division leads to defeat.” .

Esper further admitted that the military also has work to do to tackle systematic racism.

“The Department of Defense is not immune to the forces of prejudice and prejudice, whether they are visible or invisible, deliberate or involuntary,” Esper said. “These problems have no place in our armed forces, because they degrade morale, cohesion, and the preparation of our force … The events of the past few weeks are a clear reminder that much work remains to be done.”

Last month, Milley warned that “division leads to defeat” in a speech to graduates of the Naval War College and advised the audience to “remove everything that divides us.”

That speech followed Esper’s announcement of a major overhaul aimed at improving diversity and “ensuring equal opportunity at all levels” for the military.

Several defense officials with access to both Esper and Milley told CNN that the two are deeply concerned about Trump’s attempt to politicize the military and potentially drag forces into the presidential election campaign.

CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to this report.