Lazy eyes listen
The US Army and Marine Corps are now operating without a top commander for the first time in history, possibly jeopardizing efforts to recruit troops and assure they are ready to defend the country, according to the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated on Friday that the United States Senate’s reluctance to accept military nominations for over 300 pending officer positions, including commanders of the country’s two ground combat forces, is disruptive and could harm relations with allies.
In a controversy over the Pentagon’s expanded abortion benefits for servicemembers and their families, Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has blocked clearances for the appointments.
“Today, for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, two of our services will be operating without Senate-confirmed leadership,” Austin said at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. “In our dangerous world,” he added, “the security of the United States demands orderly and prompt transitions of our confirmed military leaders.”
Since General David Berger’s four-year stint as commandant ended on July 10, the Marine Corps has been without a top leader. The vacuum represented the branch’s first such leadership void in 164 years. On Friday, General James McConville resigned as chief of staff, leaving the Army with the same leadership vacancy.
“Great teams need great leaders, and that’s central to maintaining the full might of the most lethal fighting force on earth,” Austin said. “It’s vital for our global leadership and for the trust and confidence of our outstanding network of allies and partners.”
The standoff is the result of the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v Wade, a historic 1973 judicial decision that established abortion as a constitutional right. The reversal allowed dozens of Republican-led states to implement additional abortion restrictions.
The Pentagon replied in February by ordering that all US military services provide special advantages to troops and family members who go to abortion-friendly states to terminate pregnancies, including three weeks of paid vacation and full reimbursement for expenses.
Tuberville claims the policy violates a federal law that bars the use of federal monies to pay for abortions. He has urged that the abortion travel policy be put to a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Democrats may circumvent Tuberville’s procedural stumbling block by holding individual votes on each appointment, but they have claimed that would take months and prevent them from addressing other matters. Lawmakers are currently on vacation for the summer.
Acting commanders are filling the vacancies, but they are apparently unable to move into their new offices or houses and are unable to exercise certain functions, such as budgeting authority and drafting formal regulations, until their appointments are verified.