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‘We’re going to be very transparent’: Fort Bragg leaders to hold town halls on renaming

Fort Bragg (Fort Bragg/Released)

Town hall meetings to gain community input on the renaming of Fort Bragg will be announced in the coming weeks.

Col. Scott Pence, the installation’s garrison commander, updated the community on the process during a meeting Wednesday that was broadcast on the installation’s Facebook page.

Pence said other installations with airborne units often use the phrase “back at Bragg” which he said is synonymous with readiness, dedication to the mission, a sense of urgency and commitment to excellence.

“This Fort Bragg name represents an emotional connection for people, so we take that very seriously,” Pence said.

In January, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which includes a provision mandating military installations named after Confederates to be renamed.

Fort Bragg is one of those installations and is named after Confederate general Braxton Bragg, who historians say was a slave owner who fought with subordinates and lost battles.

Despite some Fayetteville residents saying they do not support the name change and most commenters on the Facebook page saying they don’t want to see it change, Congress mandated the name be changed by 2023.

The National Defense Authorization Act states that a renaming commission will research costs of changing the names of the installations, while also seeking the input of stakeholders and communities near the installations.

The renaming commission includes four appointments by the secretary of defense, two appointed by chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and two appointed by ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

The commission is tasked with developing procedures for renaming assets named after members of the Confederacy, along with gathering input from local communities and submitting a plan to the House and Armed Services Committee by October 2022.

In May, the commission’s chair, retired Adm. Michelle Howard, said that during the summer and fall the commission would visit 10 Army installations that will be renamed, including Fort Bragg.

Fort Bragg, Pence said, is home to the 18th Airborne Corps, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command and would be considered the fifth largest city in North Carolina.

“So this is an installation they’re particularly interested in and making sure that our community has a say in what the name changes to as we move forward,” he said.

Pence said the commission will go to each installation during the next two years to assess how the community feels.

Announcements about when the town hall meetings will be held will be forthcoming on the Fort Bragg Facebook page “so you can make sure your voice is heard,” Pence said.

“We’re going to be very transparent,” he said.

He said officials will keep a running list of the names suggested.

During the next few months, officials will meet with community members and stakeholders to ensure “that if any names are forwarded to the House or the Senate for the renaming of Fort Bragg — that it’s a name that we can all get behind,”

Once community input is received, Pence said, a panel of experts will submit the recommended names to the Fort Bragg commanding general.

“It’s our role and our task to make sure that anything that happens with the name is done with the full backing of the community,” he said.

The commission will brief the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on its progress by Oct. 1.

It will present its final briefing Oct. 1, 2022.

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(c) 2021 The Fayetteville Observer

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