MILITARY MATTERS: Commanding general talks Fort Benning name change

Updated: Jan. 29, 2021 at 12:42 AM EST
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - At least 10 major army posts bear the names of Confederate military commanders, including Fort Benning.

This will be changing under the National Defense Authorization Act. That is after the Congress override of former President Trump’s veto.

Since it opened in 1918, the army installation has been Fort Benning and named for Brigadier General Henry L. Benning who fought with the Confederates between 1863 and 1865.

News Leader 9 talked recently with Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, commanding general on Fort Benning, about the name change coming to the army installation likely two to three years from now.

“We will continue to deliver the world’s best light infantry through the Ranger program that starts and ends here at Fort Benning,” Donahoe said. “No matter what you call this place, it is the jewel of our training establishment of the army. Every infantry soldier will come through here and get trained. Every tank crew member will come through here and get trained.”

Four members so far have been chosen for an eight-person commission that will examine how to rename 10 army bases, required to deliver a formal plan to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees by October 2022. Then, the Pentagon will have until early 2024 to pick new names. At least $2 million has already been set aside to make the changes.

“There will be participation from local community leaders in this discussion, as it goes forward,” Donahoe said.

Here is a quick history lesson: Henry Louis Benning led his men in brutal battles. He also passionately defended slavery and in the wake of President Lincoln’s election, was one of Georgia’s most vocal proponents of secession. Benning is one of the Confederate soldiers buried at Linwood Cemetery in Columbus.

Donahoe again said no matter the name, what’s now called Fort Benning will still be home to critical army units, as headquarters for the 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade or 1st S-FAB and the Ranger regiment.

“Those two organizations have global responsibilities. Folks deployed all around the world, they all come from here. So, whatever we call this place doesn’t change any of that,” Donahoe said.

Fort Rucker in Alabama and Fort Gordon in Georgia are also named for Confederate leaders.

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