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Senior Defense Department Leaders Say Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville’s Partisan Blockade Of Military Promotions Hurts American Readiness, Makes Life Harder For Military Families

Earlier this week, Majority Leader Schumer said “For years, decades, both parties have cooperated in the Senate to confirm military promotions, nonpolitical, simply the military doing its job and promoting people who deserve it. We've worked and cooperated to confirm those promotions, to ensure our military’s work continues unimpeded and our national security remains strong. But today, one member, only one member—the Senator from Alabama, Senator Tuberville—is now blocking more than 180 military promotions because he objects to women in the military accessing reproductive care. In doing so, the Senior Senator from Alabama is putting the security of America in jeopardy and risks permanently politicizing the promotion of routine military promotions.” … “I implore my Republican colleagues to speak out and prevail on the Senator from Alabama, so we can get these promotions confirmed, get our military operating to its full capacity, and continue working to protect the nation.”


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin:

REED: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, we are in a moment where we're having a challenge getting general officers off the floor of the Senate and to their assigned stations after they've been recommended by the Department of Defense and cleared in terms of their performance and their capabilities. Can you tell us what the cumulative effects of this would be in terms of denying promotions to people who are going to take key jobs?

AUSTIN: Thanks, Chairman. The effects are absolutely critical in terms of, you know, the impact on the force. This is one of the busiest times or one of the most complex times that we've seen lately. We see a war, the largest conflict in Europe since World War II. We see an aggressive China operating in the Indo Pacific. We see Iranian backed elements going after our troops. And there are a number of things happening globally that indicate that we could be in a contest on any one given day. Not approving the recommendations for promotions actually creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be. If you look at what we have coming up, I mean, there're three, I think -- well, five three-star promotions that are near-term. And one of those is the commander of our fleet out in the out in the Gulf. And that's a critical position. Then that starts to multiply, 70 more positions, three and four-star positions over time. They include the chiefs of the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, and also the chairman's replacement at some point in time, although nobody wants to see that happen. So, the effects are cumulative, and it will affect families. It will affect kids going to schools because they won't be able to change their duty station. And so, it' a powerful effect and will impact on our readiness. [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing Via CQ, 3/28/23]

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro: “Ensuring that we have our senior general officers and flag officers is absolutely critical to our fight with regards to deterring threats from China and Russia. It’s about leadership of the force, and looking at these issues that we face. As we’ve discussed today, live war on NATO’s border; aggressive China; Iranian backed attacks on US forces; and a belligerent North Korea. We have five 3-stars [generals], Mr. Chairman that are due to rotate imminently including our top Navy commander in the Middle East, for example. Over the coming months we have seventy 3-star and 4 -star rotations, Cybercom, Spacecom, Northcom, the service chiefs themselves for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Easily hundreds of military families are going to be impacted, delaying school transitions for kids, and spouse employment and much more. I would ask for the Senate’s support and your encouragement in the House as well to support ensuring these nominations of the departments’ top military officers are not delayed any further.” [House Appropriations Committee Hearing, 3/29/23]

Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville: “The impact is probably most felt in some ways by the families and the kids. Even though it only looks like its 40 generals, it’s probably 4 or 5 other transitions that have to happen. So as someone moves up, someone moves and work their way through, so what it really does it effects the families and some of the kids, and you know, they are trying to figure out where they are going to go to school, when they are going to move, and all those things come into the readiness of the force. And as you know, we have some major transitions coming up this summer. I am going to retire by law and that is going to be in August.  There will be a replacement that will go through the process, but at this level, there are probably 8 moves that will be made, there will be a promotion to the chief, whoever that person becomes, all those jobs are going to have to change, all those officers have families and kids that are going to be effected, and anything we can do to smooth those transitions will put us in a much better place for readiness.” … “These general officers and these leaders that are coming up in the Army are the best I have ever seen. I have been doing this for a long time, I have seen a lot of generals, they are all combat proven, their families have been through 20 years of continuous combat, they are the best I have ever seen and I would ask that we would do all we can to get them confirmed.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 3/30/23]

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby: “So, I think you all know he’s blocking Defense Department nominations, including the promotions of over 160 senior military leaders — admirals and generals — and nominees for top acquisition and sustainment positions, civilian positions at DOD right at a time when budget has gone forward and you got the top leaders of the Defense Department testifying on this budget — biggest budget ever for DOD — and at a time when we are still trying to support Ukraine while we’re still facing challenges in the Indo-Pacific — a wide range of challenges; it’s not just all about China.  I mean, look at what North Korea has done in recent days. And when you hold these promotions up, you — there is, as Secretary Austin said, a real ripple effect downstream because now people can’t move on to the next job and they can’t leave the one that they’re in, and they can’t assume these new jobs of responsibility. And it absolutely — if it goes on too long, it could absolutely have an effect on U.S. military readiness around the world. We noticed that there were some Senate Republicans yesterday who urged Senator Tuberville to drop these blocks themselves, and we certainly welcome that and agree with them.” [White House Press Briefing, 3/29/23]