- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Pentagon is expected to unveil a new policy that would prohibit troops from displaying racially or socially divisive symbols in public spaces at military installations.

It remains unclear when the policy will be announced and whether Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper will place an anticipated ban on the Confederate flag, but the move, first reported by CNN citing several defense officials, would mark the latest in a host of recent steps the Pentagon has taken to address racial disparities in the armed forces.

The Defense Department last month rolled out a new initiative to end discrimination and promote equality in the military, pledging to take tangible steps to ensure all men and women in the armed forces are given a fair shot to succeed and climb the ranks.

The Pentagon, along with much of society, was spurred to action in May by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, during a confrontation with Minneapolis police.

Top military officials have been unusually blunt in talking about how the incident, along with the protests and unrest it sparked across the country, have caused them to reflect on whether the military is doing enough.

In a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley declared that the Confederacy was an “act of treason,” and called for a hard look at renaming the military bases.

Mr. Esper acknowledged the issue to the panel and said that he wants to “make sure that we have an approach that is enduring, that could withstand legal challenge but that unites us and more importantly helps build cohesion and readiness.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have backed legislation in this year’s defense policy bill that would mandate the renaming of military bases that honor Confederate leaders. However, President Trump has vowed to veto legislation that includes such policy and has maintained that the Confederate flag symbolizes “freedom of speech.”

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