OAN Roy Francis
8:53 AM – Tuesday, July 11, 2023
The United States Marine Corps is without a confirmed leader for the first time in 164 after Commandant General David Berger’s retirement on Monday.
Berger had taken over in July 2019 as the 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and was required to leave the role after four years.
At the Relinquish-of-Command ceremony held for Berger at the Marine Corps barracks in Washington D.C., General Eric Smith took over as acting Commandant. Smith, who had served as the assistant Commandant, was nominated to lead the Marine Corps in May by President Joe Biden, and is awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
Although Smith is now acting Commandant, he cannot do anything that presume confirmation, which includes moving into the main residence or the Commandant’s office, he cannot issue any new formal planning guidance, although he does have the authority to implement new policies such as budget, training, and personnel decisions.
The delay of Smith’s promotion is being held by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) along with over 200 other top-level promotions in the military.
The delay of the promotions by Tuberville is in response to the Pentagon’s post-Dobbs abortion policy. The new policy will require the Department of Defense to cover the travel costs and time off that service members take when they have to travel out of state to receive abortions when states they are stationed in do not allow the procedure.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley have both said that the delays by Tuberville are a national security concern. Austin proceeded to call on the Senate to confirm the military promotions in order to have the Marine Corps at it “full strength.”
“Smooth and timely transitions of confirmed leadership are central to the defense of the United States and to the full strength of the most powerful fighting force in history,” Austin said.
Tuberville said that his hold is not “affecting readiness” and went on to reiterate his stance saying that the current administration needs to stop the new “illegal policy” in order for him to remove the hold.
“I continue to reiterate my stance and my position over the last, almost, four months now, about my opposition to this policy. Now, the burden is not on me to pass legislation to stop this illegal policy, the burden is on the administration. The burden is on the administration to stop breaking the law,” Tuberville said in a statement. “And so let me just say this one more time — because I keep getting asked the same question over and over again. I will keep my hold, I will keep it on, until the Pentagon follows the law or changes the law. It’s that simple. Those are the two conditions that would get me to drop the hold. So, until these conditions are met, I object.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee is also scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Air Force General Charles Quinton Brown Jr., on Tuesday. The position of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman could also be impacted by Tuberville when Milley retires.
The Marines have not been without a leader since 1859 after the death of Commandant Archibald Henderson.
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