US Army chief exits without replacement, marking 2nd military service without leader

US Army chief exits without replacement, marking 2nd military service without leader

Army and Marine Corps operating without Senate-confirmed leaders due to lawmaker’s blockade

By Firdevs Bulut Kartal and Michael Hernandez

TORONTO (AA) - The US Army joined the Marine Corps on Friday as military service branches operating without Senate-confirmed leaders amid an ongoing political stalemate prompted by Sen. Tommy Tuberville.

Two of the eight seats on the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff are currently occupied by interim officers, a situation that has arisen due to Tuberville's eight-month hold on military promotions.

Speaking during a handover ceremony that will see Gen. Randy George, outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville’s No. 2, serve in an interim capacity until the Senate confirms a successor, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decried the stalemate, saying it is imperiling military readiness and causing undue stress on military families.

“In our dangerous world, the security of the United States demands orderly and prompt transitions of our confirmed military leaders. Great teams need great leaders, and that's central to maintaining the full might of the most lethal fighting force on Earth,” he said.

“The failure to confirm our superbly qualified senior uniformed leaders undermines our military readiness. It undermines our retention of some of our very best officers, and it is upending the lives of far too many of their spouses, children and loved ones,” he added.

Still, Austin maintained that he believes “we'll get this fixed, and I'm confident that we can all agree on our deeply American duty to stand for those who choose to wear the cloth of our nation.”

There are some 301 outstanding general and flag officer positions awaiting Senate confirmation, according to Austin.

The Marine Corps is currently being led by Gen. Eric Smith, the second-ranking officer, in an interim capacity. Smith was nominated by President Joe Biden to replace Commandant General David Berger, who retired in July. Biden also tapped George to succeed McConville within the Army.

Tuberville is seeking to apply pressure on Biden to change course on the Pentagon's policy of providing paid time off for service members and their dependents to receive reproductive healthcare, including abortions.

The Defense Department instituted its policy in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark legal ruling that had enshrined federal abortion protections across the country for half a century.

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