Growing feud over Tuberville’s stand on Pentagon nominations risks Senate confirmation of nation’s top military officer

Growing feud over Tuberville’s stand on Pentagon nominations risks Senate confirmation of nation’s top military officer

secretaries from three branches of the U.S.
military are all here on the lead for an exclusive
in studio interview for the first time in history,
three branches of the U.S.
military
are operating without Senate-confirmed leaders or chiefs of staff,
300 more top nominees
are also on hold,
all because of this one lawmaker,
Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tubberville,
and his objection to the Pentagon’s new policy,
which reimburse his service members or their
families for travel,
if they have to go to another state to get an abortion.
After six months
of frustrating paralysis,
the secretaries of the Army and the Navy,
and the Air Force wrote
this opinion piece in the Washington Post,
quote,
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 Tubberville,
and it is putting our national security at risk so joining us now,
the secretaries of the Air Force,
Frank Kendall,
of the Army,
Christine Wormeth,
and the Navy,
Carlos Del Toro,
for this exclusive joint interview.
Let me start with you,
Secretary Kendall,
how is America less safe and less prepared than it was six months ago?
First of all,
we are safe and we are prepared,
but what Senator Tubberville is doing is doing
significant damage to our national security.
He has put on hold as you said hundreds of officers.
Each summer we move a large fraction of our general officers into new positions.
We promote many of them.
Right now that is all in limbo.
So we have acting people,
basically serving in rules.
In many cases doing more than one job at the same time,
because we can’t move the person that we’ve
nominated into that position.
And having a major impact on those people and on their families.
Secretary Del Toro,
the Navy is facing,
obviously,
a lot of challenges.
We have the aggression of
China and the Pacific,
Iran and the States of Hormuz.
We saw today in the New York Times and
article about how the Navy’s struggling with modernizing the fleet.
How are these holds keeping you
from doing your job?
Jake,
you’re absolutely right.
Our nation faces the serious threats throughout
the globe.
And I believe that we have a responsibility as government leaders to put our most
experienced individuals,
nominate them,
and have them confirmed in positions that they can
actually lead our service members across the country.
And I would argue that Tommy Toroville,
what he’s actually doing is he’s playing Russian and relate with the very lives of our service
members by denying the opportunity to actually have the most experienced combat leaders in those positions
to lead them in times of peace and in times of combat.
And Secretary Wormuth,
this blanket hold
obviously,
in addition to affecting the national security issues that you describe.
It also affects
service members and their families,
many of whom are in limbo,
needing to move.
They all already,
their lives are constantly moving.
Their spouses,
I want you to take a listen to this military
spouse who is a member of the secure families initiative.
Christmas time that we would do.
I’d have to
make sure that at our new duty station we had a water and electricity and gas and sewage and
trash pick up.
I’d have been well my kids in school.
I’d have to find new doctors and orthodontists
and dentist and eye doctors.
I’d have to make sure that our car registration and our voter registration
were updated.
And the thing is,
I didn’t always agree with every single policy that the military had
or every single action that they were engaged in.
But I didn’t anyway,
because I made a commitment to
my spouse,
my family,
in my country.
You know,
I absolutely relate to what that person is saying.
And I can think of an example right now.
I have a general officer who was supposed to move into a new house
associated with their new position.
And that service member was going to move their aging mother into that
house with them so that they could care for them.
Because that move isn’t happening.
They are paying $10,000
a month right now to keep the aging parent in an assisted living facility.
That is the kind of
consequence that’s happening.
And these are service members who have literally put their lives on the line
for Americans for the last 20 years.
And Secretary Kendall,
today Pentagon spokesman Brigadier
General Pat Ryder attempted to put the effect of these holes in terms that the public and maybe
tubberville himself who I don’t think served could understand.
He’s a former football coach.
He
compared this to having an acting football coach.
He didn’t have real powers to take a listen.
In the short term,
they’re likely going to make things happen because that’s what good leaders do.
But what happens when performance on the field becomes impacted?
Over time,
how are you going to deal with the
uncertainty of within the coaching staff and the locker room in terms of who’s in charge,
how are we going to affect performance?
And then who are the fans going to hold accountable?
Of course,
it’s a lot more serious than that.
It’s not about who beats Alabama on Saturday.
Right?
It’s much more serious.
Let me give you an example of how serious it is.
The people who are potential adversaries are paying attention to this.
One of my general officers from the
Air Force was recently at an embassy event here in Washington.
We’re a Colonel from the People’s Liberation
Army of China,
talking to him about the way our democracy was working.
Our potential adversaries are paying
attention to this and is affecting how they view the United States and our military capabilities and
this needs to stop.
You know,
Jake,
someone who’s born in a communist country,
I would have never
imagined that actually one of our own senators would actually be eating in a bedding,
communist and other autocratic regimes around the world.
This is having a real negative impact and we’ll
continue to have a real negative impact on our combat readiness.
That’s what the American people truly need to
understand.
Senator Tubberville released a statement that said in part,
this is two weeks ago,
I will continue this process of oversight and I will announce my opposition to specific nominees
in the weeks ahead.
Do you know who he might be referring to?
Well,
I don’t know specifically who his
he is referring to,
but we’ve seen some Twitter accounts or ex-accounts,
you know,
I think who are sympathetic
to Senator Tubberville calling out individual general officers for their support,
for example,
if things like equity and inclusion in the ranks.
And,
you know,
whether one agrees with that or not,
it is just unprecedented to be attacking a political general officers and flag officers in this way.
It is,
you know,
it is taking our a political military installation.
That’s a core principle of our
constitutional democracy and eroding its foundations.
You know,
it’s interesting because,
you know,
I’ve been a journalist in this town for a long time and I’m just trying to imagine if during the busheers
when a lot of Democrats really oppose the Iraq war,
if Democrats had done this to the military then,
which any one Senator,
I suppose,
could have the accusations of lack of patriotism that we would have
heard from conservatives,
but I haven’t maybe,
maybe,
I just haven’t heard anything.
It’s exactly right,
Jake.
I started the uniform for 26 years in the United States Navy under six different presidents,
three Republicans,
three Democrats.
We have never seen another situation like this.
And it’s having a real impact on our service members who demand the trust of all the American people.
Tommy Tubberville has to stop this hold on our nominees moving forward.
It’s relatively routine for political appointees like ourselves to be put on hold,
pending a confirmation.
It is totally unprecedented to do this to our professional military officers.
You know,
the hundreds of people in their families and all the others affected by this,
have nothing to do with this policy.
This is not going to be an effective tactic and it’s a terrible
precedent for other situations.
And it’s not just the immediate consequences.
It’s all of the
Kernels,
Lieutenant kernels,
even majors who are looking at how the general officers are being treated and
what their families are going through.
I really worry that a lot of those officers who volunteer
are going to walk away and basically say,
I don’t want to deal with this.
This is what it takes to be a
general officer.
I don’t want to do this.
It’s interesting because one of the bond rating agencies
just downgraded the U.S.
because of their analysis that the U.S.
government is just so dysfunctional
in terms of like being able to solve the long-term debt problems.
We have this government shutdown coming
down,
which might affect a military paychecks coming up.
I wonder if this is,
and we talk about the
recruiting problems that the military has.
This can’t help that.
Well,
you’re absolutely right,
Jake.
And as you said,
you know,
National Security is not a football game.
The American people need to
stand up and complain about what’s going on because we need to actually turn this around as quickly as
possible.
Final thoughts?
Well,
I hope,
frankly,
that Senator Tuberville and a lot of his peers
in the Senate heard from their voters when they were out on recess.
That’s part of why we timed
the op-ed when we did.
It’s Congress is coming back into recess,
and I hope a lot of Americans have said
enough is enough.
Well,
I think the point that you made,
sir,
that this isn’t about political
Sharp.
Yeah.
This is about generals,
admirals,
Kernels,
Lieutenant kernels,
majors,
people who
have devoted their lives to serving this country,
they’re the ones and their families,
their poor
blue star families who are being affected.
And to suggest that these admirals in general say,
not fight is completely wrong.
These are the same individuals who for 20 years actually defended
our national security in Iraq,
Afghanistan,
and throughout the globe.
They deserve our respect.
And,
more importantly,
the current service members who serve in all our services demand to have the best
leadership to guide them and lead them in combat and during times of peace.
Secretary of State and
Warmouth and Secretary of Foreign Candle and Secretary Coral is still trying to thank one and all
for being here.
We should note that we reached out to Alabama Senator Tuberville’s office for an
interview.
He declined.

 

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