Navy says no to Confederate items as Air Force set to have...

Navy says no to Confederate items as Air Force set to have nation’s first African-American service chief

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Gen. Charles Q. Brown, center, and other Air Force officers during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference, September 2019 (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON — The Navy said it will soon implement a policy to banish the Confederate battle flag and, perhaps, paraphernalia  in public spaces and work areas on installations, ships, aircraft, and submarines.

That policy would follow the lead of a more sweeping Marine Corps order last Friday immediately implementing a ban on all Confederate items in public and military areas.

“The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesperson for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, said in a statement to the media.

The Marines had announced it proposed change last February. It is unclear when the Navy will issue the order implementing the changes.

Military.com reported that Army officials are considering a similar ban.

The Air Force has not said if it will consider following the lead of the other branches. However, it will soon take a step none of the others have — an African-American as its top military officer.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., by a 98-0 vote to be the 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff. That clears the way for Brown to become the first African-American in history to lead a branch of the U.S. military as its highest-ranking officer.

He is expected to move into that position in July.

Last week Brown penned and circulated a piece calling out the issues of race in the U.S. and the military. ”I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden,” he wrote, acknowledging that he “can’t fix centuries of racial discrimination in our country.”

Earlier this week Army officials told Pentagon reporters that Ryan McCarthy, the secretary of the Army, is considering changing the names of 10 bases that now honor Confederate military leaders.

Col. Sunset Belinsky, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, told Military.com that McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are open to a bipartisan discussion on the issue of remaining bases.

“Each Army installation is named for a soldier who has a significant place in our military history,” Belinsky said. “Accordingly, the historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies.”

The Army has other similar challenges. For example, it runs Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where the Confederate Memorial sits in honor of the Southern cause.

A time capsule in its cornerstone contains objects and documents regarding the Confederate government and military. Among the many carved figures on the memorial — which includes the Great Seal of the Confederacy – are depictions of what are identified as “faithful black servants.”

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