North Carolina’s Fort Bragg would be renamed Fort Liberty under a recommendation from a Defense Department panel working to distance the Army base from its Confederate namesake, according to congressional sources.
A formal announcement of the name change was expected to be released on Tuesday afternoon.
The base is one of nine Army facilities named for a Confederate general that has been under discussion for renaming, following a congressionally mandated review of the negative connotations surrounding the historic links.
Fort Bragg is currently named for Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate army officer who was also a slaveowner. Bragg was also a mediocre general, according to a recent biography.
A spokesperson for the DoD’s Naming Commission, which is tasked with reviewing the military’s Confederate base names and recommending new ones, declined to comment ahead of a press conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Congress will need to take action on the recommendations in order for the changes to become final, defense officials said last month.
The new name for the installation — which houses the Army’s airborne and special operations forces — is likely a surprise to most, since it was not included on the list of potential names being considered.
Commission officials earlier this year said they had narrowed the list of potential replacement names down to 87 possibilities, featuring mostly military heroes like Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe and Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez.
The renaming process has proved controversial on Capitol Hill, with numerous Republican lawmakers opposing the effort. Former President Donald Trump publicly opposed the idea during his time in office, saying that changing the names ignored the history of the military sites and dishonored the troops that served at each.
But enough Republican lawmakers sided with Democrats to advance the measure forcing the name changes. For the last 16 months, the commission has been collecting recommendations from the public and groups connected with each of the bases on what the next steps should be.
Some critics of the suggested new name for Fort Bragg, which was first reported by WRAL, shared frustration that the post’s new name will be for an abstract concept rather than a person.
But the term has featured prominently in the history and mottos of its units.
The 82nd Airborne Division’s World War II route from Normandy, France, east towards Germany is today part of a commemorative “Liberty Road” featuring painted kilometer markers with a prominent image of a torch.
And the Latin motto of the Army’s Special Forces branch — De Oppresso Liber — is traditionally translated to mean “to liberate the oppressed.”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood’s WWII movies.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
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