Listen to Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger talk about the impact on the spouses and children of military families who deserve more than cheap platitudes and drunken clapping for their contributions to our nation.
Every person with a phone should call their two US senators and members of Congress and express outrage over this. You can contact the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request. To find your representative, you can use this tool. Demand action on this very serious issue.
These officers and the millions of service members they lead are the foundation of America’s enduring military advantage. Yet this foundation is being actively eroded by the actions of a single U.S. senator, Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), who is blocking the confirmation of our most senior military officers.
The senator asserts that this blanket and unprecedented “hold,” which he has maintained for more than six months, is about opposition to Defense Department policies that ensure service members and their families have access to reproductive health no matter where they are stationed.
After the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, this policy is critical and necessary to meet our obligations to the force. It is also fully within the law, as confirmed by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Senators have many legislative and oversight tools to show their opposition to a specific policy. They are free to introduce legislation, gather support for that legislation, and pass it. But placing a blanket hold on all general and flag officer nominees, who as apolitical officials have traditionally been exempt from the hold process, is unfair to these military leaders and their families.
And it is putting our national security at risk.
Thus far, the hold has prevented the Defense Department from placing almost 300 of our most experienced and battle-tested leaders into critical posts around the world.
Three of our five military branches — the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps — have no Senate-confirmed service chief in place. Instead, these jobs — and dozens of others across the force — are being performed by acting officials without the full range of legal authorities necessary to make the decisions that will sustain the United States’ military edge.
Across the services, many generals and admirals are being forced to perform two roles simultaneously. The strain of this double duty places a real and unfair burden on these officers, the organizations they lead, and their families.
The blanket hold is also exacting a personal toll on those who least deserve it.
Each of us has seen the stress this hold is inflicting up and down the chain of command, whether in the halls of the Pentagon or at bases and outposts around the world.
We know officers who have incurred significant unforeseen expenses and are facing genuine financial stress because they have had to relocate their families or unexpectedly maintain two residences.
Military spouses who have worked to build careers of their own are unable to look for jobs because they don’t know when or if they will move. Children don’t know where they will go to school, which is particularly hard given how frequently military children change schools already.
These military leaders are being forced to endure costly separations from their families — a painful experience they have come to know from nearly 20 years of deployments to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
All because of the actions of a single senator.
Any claim that holding up the promotions of top officers does not directly damage the military is wrong — plain and simple.
The leaders whose lives and careers are on hold include scores of combat veterans who have led our troops into deadly combat with valor and distinction in the decades since 9/11. These men and women each have decades of experience and are exactly who we want — and need — to be leading our military at such a critical period of time.
The impact of this hold does not stop at these officers or their family members.
With the promotions of our most senior leaders on hold, there is a domino effect upending the lives of our more junior officers, too.
Looking over the horizon, the prolonged uncertainty and political battles over these military nominations will have a corrosive effect on the force.
The generals and admirals who will be leading our forces a decade from now are colonels and captains today. They are watching this spectacle and might conclude that their service at the highest ranks of our military is no longer valued by members of Congress or, by extension, the American public.
Rather than continue making sacrifices to serve our nation, some might leave uniformed service for other opportunities, robbing the Defense Department of talent cultivated over decades that we now need most to maintain our superiority over our rivals and adversaries.
Throughout our careers in national security, we have deeply valued the bipartisan support shown for our service members and their families. But rather than seeking a resolution to this impasse in that spirit, Tuberville has suggested he is going to further escalate this confrontation by launching baseless political attacks against these men and women.
We believe that the vast majority of senators and Americans across the political spectrum recognize the stakes of this moment and the dangers of politicizing our military leaders. It is time to lift this dangerous hold and confirm our senior military leaders.
Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the US Navy
Frank Kendall, Secretary of the US Air Force
Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the US Army