US Navy joins Marines in moving to ban Confederate battle flag

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COLUMBIA, SC – JUNE 27: Demonstrators protest at the South Carolina State House calling for the Confederate flag to remain on the State House grounds June 27, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier in the week South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley expressed support for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in the wake of the nine murders at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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The Navy’s top admiral has directed the drafting of an order that would prohibit displays of the Confederate battle flag, a move that takes place after the Marine Corps ordered a similar policy and comes as the Army has said it’s open to renaming bases currently named after Confederate officers.

“The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, has directed his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines,” Gilday’s spokesman Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, issued a similar policy banning the display of the flag on installations back in April.

“I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country,” Berger wrote, adding, “My intent is not to judge the specific meaning anyone ascribes to that symbol or declare someone’s personally held view to be incorrect.”

“Rather, I am focused solely on building a uniquely capable warfighting team whose members come from all walks of life and must learn to operate side-by-side,” he continued.

Two US Defense officials previously told CNN that US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley are said to be open to holding a “bipartisan conversation” about renaming nearly a dozen major bases and installations that bear the names of Confederate military commanders.

The Army, in a statement Monday, confirmed that McCarthy and Esper are “open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic,” but added that “each Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a significant place in our military history.”

“Accordingly, the historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies,” the statement said.

Army installations named after Confederate leaders include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia.

The flag of the Confederacy, its symbols and the statues commemorating Confederate leaders have long divided the country. Critics call the flag a symbol that represents the war to uphold slavery, while supporters call it a sign of Southern pride and heritage.

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