As McConville's tenure wraps up, Austin warns of readiness issues caused by military nomination holds

By Dan Schere / August 4, 2023 at 11:33 AM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated concerns about the blanket hold on more than 300 military nominees in the Senate Friday, during a sendoff for outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

McConville relinquished the position he has held for the past four years Friday during an official “relinquishment of responsibility” ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, VA.

Gen. Randy George, most recently the service’s vice chief, has been nominated by President Biden to be the Army’s next chief of staff and will serve in an acting capacity until confirmed.

George’s nomination along with that of Gen. Eric Smith, the nominee to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, and 301 nominations for general and flag officers are being held up by Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) blockade, stemming from his opposition to the Pentagon’s leave and travel reimbursement policies for servicemembers seeking abortion services.

Austin said during Friday’s ceremony that “orderly and prompt transitions” of military leaders are needed to ensure U.S. security.

“The failure to confirm our superbly qualified senior uniformed leaders undermines our military readiness. 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,” he said.

Austin praised McConville for his leadership in modernizing the Army with capabilities that have included long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicles and missile defense.

“The Army also has brought its doctrine into the 21st century. And you’ve created new organizations that can provide more and better capabilities to combatant commanders, and strengthen our partnerships around the world, and sustain the fight wherever and whenever needed,” he said.