Smith could return to full duty within weeks, SECNAV says

By Nick Wilson / January 11, 2024 at 12:15 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith could return to duty “in the next several weeks,” according to Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who said Smith’s health is much improved following successful open-heart surgery.

“He's out of the ICU now, he’s in a more lower-level treatment room. Basically, he's walking around, he's in good spirits, he's strong, he's itching to get back,” Del Toro told reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium.

“I foresee that there'll be some additional therapy that will be involved over the next two to three weeks to make sure that he recovers completely,” the secretary continued, adding that he has encouraged Smith to the take time to fully recover.

On Monday, the Marine Corps announced Smith had completed a successful surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which caused a heart attack on Oct 29. Smith plans to return to “full duty status as commandant” following his rehabilitation, the announcement states.

Assistant Commandant Gen. Christopher Mahoney continues to perform the duties of commandant while Smith recovers. On Wednesday, Del Toro praised Mahoney and the Marine Corps leadership team and said Smith and Mahoney have been in “constant conversation.”

“We have a great system and Gen. Mahoney has done a great job as the acting commandant,” Del Toro said. “I've expressed my personal opinion to Gen. Smith that he needs to recover, and he shouldn't be ‘in a rush’ to just get back.”