Sen. Tommy Tuberville greets U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III prior to a Senate Armed Services hearing in March. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A blockade enforced by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has left two of the eight seats on the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff filled by interim officers for the first time in history.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville retired Friday and handed his seat off to Gen. Randy George, who will serve as acting Army Chief of Staff in an interim capacity.
However, with McConville's absence, the Army is left without a top uniformed general confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Marines similarly is operating under an unconfirmed interim head, acting Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith, for the first time in more than 100 years.
"The failure to confirm our superbly qualified senior uniformed leaders undermines our military readiness," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at a changeover ceremony Friday broadcasted by the U.S. Defense Department.
"It undermines our retention of some of our very best officers. And it is upending the lives of far too many of their spouses, children and loved ones."
In July, Air Force Gen. C.Q. Brown warned that the military "will lose talent" over a blockade on promotions led by Tuberville. He made his remarks during his confirmation hearing to become the nation's top military officer as President Joe Biden's pick for the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Tuberville, a junior senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for months has been able to block promotions and confirmation hearings for the military after the Pentagon announced new policies granting administrative leave and travel expenses for troops seeking an abortion.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, the current chair of the joint chiefs, is required by law to retire in October. The blockade could affect Brown's confirmation and more than 300 other senior promotions with a domino effect of reverberations down the entire chain of command.
"Let me be clear. In our dangerous world, the security of the United States demands orderly and prompt transitions of our confirmed military leaders," Austin said Friday.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, the top civilian leader of the Department of the Army, called on the Senate to act and confirm George to his role after his nomination by President Joe Biden.
"We need to end all of this uncertainty for our military families," she said.
According to Politico, Adm. Mike Gilday -- the current Chief of Naval Operations -- will also hand off command to Adm. Lisa Franchetti, potentially leaving three seats on the Joint Chiefs formally unfilled.