We are a deeply concerned group of retired General and Flag Officers, representing all military services, who, having served decades in uniform in defense of this nation, urge you to condemn the hold on hundreds of promotions of senior military officers.
The Honorable Senator from Alabama, Tommy Tuberville, has placed a hold on promotions unless the Pentagon reverses its policy regarding servicemembers’ access to reproductive healthcare. We are extremely concerned about the detrimental effect the hold is having on national security, and deplore the politicization of an historically apolitical promotion process.
Senator Tuberville’s continued block of military promotions is affecting the operational readiness and the Armed Forces’ ability to defend the United States in today’s complex and challenging security environment. Because of this hold, The Marine Corps does not have a Commandant for the first time in more than 164 years. A Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Chief of Naval Operations, and Chief of Staff of the Army will not be confirmed. As Senator Tuberville’s hold continues, more and more positions will be vacant. By the end of the year the hold will affect about 650 senior officers, a significant percentage of senior military officers.
Senator Tuberville’s hold has a cascading effect down the chain. While this hold continues, officers and enlisted troops at every level in the chain of command, as well as their families, are negatively impacted. When Americans join the U.S. Armed Forces, they commit to making great sacrifices for our nation. They and their families deserve as much security, stability, and predictability as we can provide.
Military promotions have, for generations, been an apolitical process. The Senate has historically approved promotions on a bipartisan basis, recognizing the importance of an orderly transition of military commands. Senators have a prerogative to hold nominations, and there is precedent for doing so, in the interest of good faith engagement with the Defense Department on matters relevant to the nominations. Past holds have been resolved in a timely manner, demonstrating the devotion of all parties to national security over partisan politics.
Senator Tuberville’s brinksmanship with the Department of Defense sends the opposite message to our officers: that regardless of how well you served your country over the course of decades, your promotion is now subject to partisan politics. That message will cause our most talented officers to reconsider life in the military when they can easily attain stability and a good income if they retire from the service.
To inject partisan politics into this process, therefore, is to threaten the national security of the United States.
It is deeply regrettable that due to the lone voice of Senator Tuberville, the entire Senate is failing to meet its statutory obligations to appoint military officers. We trust you take that obligation seriously and share our commitment to our Troops, their families, and to our national security. For all these reasons, we urge the Senate to come together on a bipartisan basis to condemn the hold and support the nominations. The health of the military and the national security of the United States is at severe risk and there is no time to spare.
Lieutenant General Jeff Buchanan, USA (Ret)
Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, USA (Ret)
Lieutenant General Charles Otstott, USA (Ret)
Lieutenant General Mark C. Schwartz, USA (Ret)
Major General Paul Eaton, USA (Ret)
Major General Gale Pollock, USA (Ret)
Major General Tammy Smith, USA (Ret)
Major General Tony Taguba, USA (Ret)
Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson, USA (Ret)
Brigadier General Brian Davis, USA (Ret)
Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret)
Brigadier General Peter Zwack, USA (Ret)
Rear Admiral David Manero, USN (Ret)