Col. John Wilcox, Fort Bragg’s garrison commander, told local Fayetteville radio host Goldy on Wednesday that he expects the name change to happen in June.
“It’s official,” Wilcox said. “It’s happening this year. In fact, it’s going to happen in the month of June. We’re going to nail down exactly what day in June here pretty soon.”
William A. LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, directed all Department of Defense organizations on Jan. 5, to begin full implementation of the national Renaming Commission’s recommendations.
The commission was mandated by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to identify assets, including Army installations, that commemorate the Confederacy.
Fort Bragg is currently named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general associated with being a slave owner and losing battles during the Civil War.
The local post is among nine Army installations identified for a name change.
In May, the commission announced that after community stakeholder meetings, it was recommending renaming Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty.
According to the Naming Commission’s report, the Army was founded “to achieve the ideal of liberty. "
The word liberty, the report states, is featured in the 82nd Airborne Division’s song and is part of the Army Special Forces’ motto.
Fort Bragg is home to airborne and special operations forces, with about 49,000 military personnel.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin announced in October that he agreed with the Commission’s recommendation.
According to this month’s DOD news release “each responsible DoD organization has submitted a comprehensive plan of action and milestones to implement the Commission’s recommendations by its Jan. 1, 2024 deadline.”
Details of those plans have not yet been made public.
In an email statement, an Army spokesperson said that the removal of names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America will be implemented no later than Jan. 1, 2024.
“We established a planning team that will work closely with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the other military services, and our commands to implement the Naming Commission’s recommendations,” the spokesperson said. “We recognize these changes will take time to implement and we look forward to honoring the courage, sacrifice, and diversity of the Army’s men and women. There will be official renaming ceremonies over the course of 2023.”
In January 2022, Fort Bragg officials revealed that Longstreet Road had reverted back to its original historic name of Long Street.
A news release stated the condensed name has been incorrectly affiliated with Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.
Based on an evaluation of the area by the National Register of Historic Places conducted by Carl Steen in 2008, the condensed name from Long Street to Longstreet was likely part of U.S. Geological Survey map simplification efforts after 1918, officials said.
The news release stated that Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Public Works, Cultural Resources verified in historical documents that the original name of the road was Long Street.
More than 480 street names on Fort Bragg were evaluated in preparation for the national renaming commission, said Linda Carnes-McNaughton, Fort Bragg’s curator and archeologist, during a September 2021 joint meeting with the city of Fayetteville about the Fort Bragg renaming process.
Carnes-McNaughton said other Fort Bragg streets identified for name changes include: Alexander, Armistead, Donelson, Jackson, Mosby, Pelham and Reilly.
It is not clear whether other Confederate assets like roads and buildings on Fort Bragg will be renamed before the main installation takes on the Fort Liberty name.
Costs to Fayetteville and Cumberland County?
The cost to rename Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty will be about $6.37 million, according to a report released by the national Renaming Commission.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder did not have an updated estimate during a Jan. 5 press briefing.
“Each of the (military) services has clear instructions in terms of what it is that they need to focus on … the Secretary is confident that the services are and will continue to take that seriously,” Ryder said.
In their report, the Renaming Commission also recommended that Congress support non-Department of Defense federal, state and local communities near the Army posts that will be renamed “by providing financial means for the renaming of their assets.”
Local government entities have not yet released an estimate of the cost associated with renaming assets outside of Fort Bragg in Cumberland County and Fayetteville.
“Currently the city is looking at how the renaming will impact the city, and what may be needed to best address any needs for our community,” city spokesperson, Loren Bymer, said.
Brian Haney, a spokesperson for Cumberland County, said county leadership has been engaged in stakeholder discussions about the renaming process.
“The County does not maintain roads and we believe that any impacts or costs to the County from the name change would be negligible, mainly around making sure the name is updated on documents going forward,” Haney said. “Once the name changes, County departments will begin using the new name.”
Andrew Barksdale, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, previously estimated that changing “Fort Bragg next exit” signs along Interstates 95 and 295 would “easily exceed $1 million.”
On Wednesday, Drew Cox, an NCDOT division engineer for Cumberland County, said that initial estimates were preliminary and that a more intensive inventory list would be assessed once timelines are in place.
Cox said the number of letters in the new name will impact things like the size and design of new signs, and right know exact costs are unknown without having a manufacturer estimate or knowing whether DOT employes or contractors will change the signs.
“We’re wanting to wait until being notified with an official timeline before we start taking inventory,” Cox said.
Cox said DOT has had a “longstanding relationship with Fort Bragg,” through a memorandum of understanding for highway maintenance.
“We want to be supportive of them because what they are for our country,” he said.
The Renaming Commission has also recommended that commanders be allowed to work with local historical societies, museums, and veteran associations to donate Department of Defense assets that will be removed as part of the renaming process.
*Editor’s Note: This article was published as part of a content-sharing agreement between Army Times and The Fayetteville Observer.