Reed: Republican Senator’s Unprecedented Hold on Military Nominations is ‘a profound assault on the professionalism’ of U.S. Armed Forces
“If my colleagues believe in the need for a strong military… they don’t want to inject political theater into this process.”
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called for an end to a Republican senator’s ongoing, unprecedented, and reckless blockade of all senior U.S. military nominees of general and flag officer rank. Reed noted the Senate Republican is harming military readiness and hurting military families over a partisan dispute that has nothing to do with merit-based military promotions.
All senior military officer nominations must pass through the Senate Armed Services Committee and be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before being promoted to the rank they are nominated for. This is a strictly nonpartisan process.
A transcript of Reed’s remarks follows:
U.S. SEN. JACK REED: Thank you, Leader Schumer.
Senator Tuberville has mounted a profound assault on the professionalism of the military of the United States.
The selection of our generals and flag officers is based on their performance, their dedication, their sacrifice, their service. They are selected by other professionals strictly with respect to their skills, their talent, and above all, their commitment to the Constitution of this country.
Now, they're becoming political hostages. This is a dangerous, dangerous trend for our military and also for our political process.
We’re in a situation now where we are seeing critical military positions that are in jeopardy of not being filled in a timely way.
One of them, as Senator Schumer alluded to, is the commander of 5th Fleet, which operates in CENTCOM. And so when you hear a lot of my colleagues today, especially my Republican colleagues, talk about the great threat from Iran and their hostility, I would ask yourself: How is denying the 5th Fleet a commander going to help us in that area of contest and struggle? It's not – it will hurt us.
As Senator Schumer also said, they are blocking the appointment of our U.S. military representative to NATO. This, at a time when NATO is a key part in a worldwide coalition to help the Ukrainian people fight back against Russian invaders.
Now, that's bad enough. But we've got a lot more general officers.
Looking ahead, within the next eight months, we expect the Department to nominate approximately 650 General and Flag Officers (including 80 three- and four-star nominees), all of whom will come through the Armed Services Committee and will require Senate confirmation.
These officers include three combatant commanders, CYBERCOM, SPACECOM, and NORTHCOM; three deputy combat commanders, CYBERCOM, CENTCOM, and AFRICOM; the Chief of Staff of the Army; the Chief of Naval Operations; the Commandant of the Marine Corps; and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
In addition, in September the term of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, will expire under the law and he will need to be succeeded.
If these holds continue, within a few months we will have no leadership in significant parts of our military. In fact, almost the entire force will have acting leaders and temporary leaders. We need leadership right now.
This is completely unacceptable.
So, if my colleagues believe in the need for a strong military based on constitutional and professional values, they don’t want to inject political theater into this process.
If we do not have coherent, organized leadership at the Department of Defense, then we're putting troops at risk. And that, to me, is unacceptable.