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Esper unveils guidance on symbols effectively banning Confederate flag on military installations

July 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A US flag is pictured on a soldier's uniform during an artillery live fire event by the US Army Europe's 41st Field Artillery Brigade at the military training area in Grafenwoehr, southern Germany, on March 4, 2020. - The 41st Field Artillery Brigade plans, prepares, executes and assesses operations to provide US Army Europe with long-range precision strike capabilities. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued a new Defense Department policy Friday that will act as a defacto ban on the display of the Confederate flag.

(CNN)Secretary of Defense Mark Esper issued a new Defense Department policy Friday that will act as a defacto ban on the display of the Confederate flag.

The new guidance governs the display and depiction of flags on military installations, and while the policy does not specifically mention the Confederate battle flag, it is not listed among the flags permitted to be displayed.

The new policy comes amid an ongoing debate about the display of the Confederate battle flag and whether military installations named paying tribute to Confederate officers should be renamed.

Some military services such as the Marine Corps have already issued bans on the display of the Confederate battle flag.

"The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols," Esper added.

Esper presented the guidance Friday morning to senior Defense Department leaders and commanders and noted that flags are powerful symbols, particularly in the military community for whom flags embody common mission, common histories, and the special, timeless bonds of warriors, according to a Pentagon statement.

The new guidance applies to public displays or depictions of flags by service members and civilian employees in all Department of Defense workplaces, common access areas, and public areas.

Non-sanctioned flags, such as the confederate battle flag, are not prohibited from being displayed in "museum exhibits, state-issued license plates, grave sites, memorial markers, monuments, educational displays, historical displays, or works of art, where the nature of the display or depiction cannot reasonably be viewed as endorsement of the flag by the Department of Defense," according to a memo on the new policy.

A defense official familiar with the decision told CNN that the decision to not name a specific prohibited flag "was to ensure the department-wide policy would be apolitical and withstand potential free speech political challenges, but that the services are still free to act on other flags. "

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, issued a policy banning the display of the flag on installations back in April and the Navy said it was also working on an order to ban the flag.

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