Pentagon warns of disruptions as Army, Marines both lack confirmed leaders for first time

Aug 4, 2023, 11:33 AM

FILE - Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washing...

FILE - Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, July 18, 2023. Austin is warning that troop readiness and retention is at risk, as the Army's chief stepped down Friday leaving the military's two ground combat forces without Senate-confirmed leaders for the first time in history. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that troop readiness and retention is at risk as the Army’s chief stepped down Friday, leaving the military’s two ground combat forces without Senate-confirmed leaders for the first time in history.

Speaking during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Austin said the Senate’s failure to confirm the services’ new leaders is disruptive to the force and could impact relationships with allies and partners around the globe.

The confirmation of the next Army chief and Marine commandant are among more than 300 military nominations stalled by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, over the Pentagon’s policy to pay for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care.

“Today for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, two of our services will be operating without Senate confirmed leadership,” said Austin. “Great teams need great leaders, and that’s central to maintaining the full might of the most lethal fighting force on earth.”

Army Gen. James McConville is retiring and Gen. Randy George, the current vice chief has been nominated to become the next chief of the service. On Friday, George became the acting chief. Similarly, Marine Gen. Eric Smith has been nominated to be the next commandant, but is serving in an acting capacity now because he hasn’t been confirmed.

Both can serve as “acting” chiefs, but can do nothing that would presume confirmation. As a result, they can’t move into the main residences or offices, or issue formal planning guidance, which is traditional for a new leader. And officials have also warned that there are some authorities, including some budgeting powers, that don’t shift to acting leaders.

“We need these leaders in place to ensure the readiness of our force,” said Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, speaking at the ceremony. “And we need to end all of this uncertainty for our military families.” She noted that officers and their families are in limbo, waiting to see if they will move or not to new bases, states and job.

Smith addressed the issue in a letter to the force on Thursday, laying out the need for the Corps to continue modernization efforts and broader programs to improve warfighting.

“Until the Senate confirms our 39th Commandant, this guidance will serve as our reference point,” Smith said. “ I cannot predict how long this process may take, but waiting is not an option for Marines, so we will move out as a team – just as we would in combat.”

Tuberville has blocked efforts to have Senate votes on all nominations for senior military jobs because he disagrees with the travel pay policy. And congress is now out on summer vacation, which means there will be no action on the jobs for weeks.

Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, will step down on Monday. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, the current vice chief, has been nominated to take over.

Further complicating things, Air Force Gen. CQ Brown has been nominated to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when Army Gen. Mark Milley leaves, as required by law, on Sept. 30. The current vice chairman, Adm. Christopher Grady, would serve as acting chairman.

Brown, whose term as Air Force chief goes for another year, will remain in that post. Gen. David Allvin has been nominated to be the next Air Force chief, if Brown moves to the chairman’s job.

United States News

FILE - President Joe Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom wait for reporters to leave the room du...

Associated Press

California governor to name Laphonza Butler, former Kamala Harris adviser, to Feinstein Senate seat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will name Laphonza Butler, a Democratic strategist, to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein,

37 minutes ago

Associated Press

$1.04 billion Powerball jackpot tempts players to brave long odds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An estimated $1.04 billion Powerball jackpot will be up for grabs Monday night, tempting players to spend a couple dollars on a longshot chance at instant riches. The prize is the world’s ninth-largest lottery prize behind earlier drawings of Powerball and Mega Millions, the other nearly nationwide lottery game. The […]

59 minutes ago

Associated Press

US expands probe into Ford engine failures to include two motors and nearly 709,000 vehicles

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto safety investigators have expanded a probe into Ford Motor Co. engine failures to include nearly 709,000 vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said in documents posted Monday on its website that it upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, a step closer to a recall. The investigation now […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Car drives through fence at airport, briefly disrupting operations, officials say

A car crashed through a fence at Maine’s busiest airport, traveled on a service road alongside a runway and then was abandoned, causing a brief disruption, officials said. The episode unfolded Sunday morning at Portland International Jetport, when the abandoned sedan was spotted after it had crashed into a second fence in a secure area […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Protesters shout before a speaking engagement by Ben Shapiro on the campus of the University...

Associated Press

Few Americans say conservatives can speak freely on college campuses, AP-NORC/UChicago poll shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans view college campuses as far friendlier to liberals than to conservatives when it comes to free speech, with adults across the political spectrum seeing less tolerance for those on the right, according to a new poll. Overall, 47% of adults say liberals have “a lot” of freedom to express their views […]

10 hours ago

Fencer Kirsten Hawkes poses for a portrait at a fencing studio Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, in San Dieg...

Associated Press

Forced kiss claim leads to ‘helplessness’ for accuser who turned to Olympics abuse-fighting agency

DENVER (AP) — When Kirsten Hawkes, a one-time elite fencer, reached out to her childhood coach for advice about starting her own fencing club, their meeting turned awkward right away. It began, she said, with an unwanted kiss on the lips when the two met at a bar during a fencing tournament in Minneapolis last […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Pentagon warns of disruptions as Army, Marines both lack confirmed leaders for first time