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 August 5, 2023

Army chief of staff retires prior to Senate confirmation of replacement

The Army chief of staff resigned on Friday, but his replacement hasn't been confirmed by the Senate yet, so no one could take the oath of office.

In April, President Joe Biden chose Gen. Randy George, the Army's deputy chief of staff, to be the next chief of staff, as The Washington Examiner reported.

However, the Senate hasn't confirmed him yet, even though Gen. James McConville, the outgoing chief of staff, retired on August 4.

“Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, is scheduled to officially retire on Aug. 4, 2023, 42 years after first entering the Army," Cynthia Smith, an Army spokeswoman, told the Washington Examiner.

"Randy George has been nominated to become the 41st Chief of Staff of the Army and his nomination is pending in the Senate.

"In the meantime, Gen. George will continue in his current capacity as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army and will perform duties as prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.”

According to statements made by U.S. Army spokesperson Madison Bonzo to the Washington Examiner, there have been a couple of situations in which the Army did not have a head that had been confirmed by the Senate.

“According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, there have been instances when the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army also served as the acting Chief of Staff of the Army," Bonzo explained.

"Gen. Bruce Palmer served as the acting CSA following Gen. William Westmoreland’s retirement in 1972, and Gen. John Keane served as acting CSA following Gen. Eric Shinseki’s retirement in 2003.

"In addition, following the death of Gen. Creighton Abrams in 1974, Gen. Frederick Weyand served as VCSA and simultaneously performed the duties of CSA for approximately one month until he was officially confirmed as CSA by the Senate on Oct. 3, 1974.”

The Senate went on vacation in August before approving either George or the new chief of naval operations, whose predecessor is also leaving this month.

Because of the policy the department put in place after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has held up about 300 military raises and nominations for about six months. Tuberville's hold has already affected and will continue to affect the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday's term ends later this month, and Rear Adm. Ryan Perry, a Navy spokeswoman, said that Adm. Lisa Franchetti, who is currently the vice CNO, will take over the job temporarily.

In addition to the Franchetti situation, there are 76 flag officer nominations for positions that are set to change this year across the Navy, Petty said. He also said that the hold has effects like moving deputies into leadership roles to keep things running smoothly, delaying retirements, and moving people before they are confirmed.

The policy that led to Tuberville's protest says that the military must give a service member or their dependent time off and pay for their travel costs if they need to go out of state for certain reproductive care treatments, like abortions.

Federal law says that department funds and facilities can only be used for abortions if the mother's life is in danger or if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. However, the Alabama senator has said that the policy of paying for some of the costs of getting an abortion at any time during the pregnancy goes against the spirit of the law.

The Senate is supposed to go back to Washington at the beginning of next month, but it's not clear if both sides will be able to solve this problem.

Gen. Charles Brown, who is in charge of the Air Force, was nominated by Vice President Joe Biden to be the next head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If his nomination is approved, the president would also have to nominate someone to replace him. The current head, Gen. Mark Milley, is going to step down at the end of September.

Written By:
Charlotte Tyler

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