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Pentagon Official Underscores Impact of Senate Hold on DOD Nominees

Defense Officials continue to push for a path forward on Senate confirmation for hundreds of military nominees, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said today.

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An aerial view of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., May 15, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza, DOD
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A total of 378 general and flag officer nominations have been delayed indefinitely as part of the blanket hold put in place by Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama in February.  

"The holds continue to grow, unfortunately," Singh said.  

"We are continuing to be in touch with the Senate on the best way forward, and it's really up to them to decide on how they decide to lift these holds," she said. "But we're going to continue to advocate for all of our general and flag officers."  

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his legislative team have, for months, remained engaged with Senate leaders and lawmakers from both parties to clear a path for the held-up nominations. 

Austin has underscored the impact the lawmaker's holds are having on military readiness and the risks posed to national security.

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The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group transits the Strait of Gibraltar, Oct. 28, 2023. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment to provide the national command authority flexible, tailorable, warfighting capability to maintain maritime stability and to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
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At one point during the summer, three service leaders were among those awaiting Senate confirmation. In July, Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith took over as acting commandant of the Marine Corps. In August, Army Gen. Randy A. George took over as acting chief of staff of the Army, and Navy Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti became acting chief of naval operations. 

It was the first time in decades that any one of the branches has been led by an acting service chief — and the first time in history that all three have operated simultaneously without confirmed leadership.    

In September, the Senate voted to confirm the individual nominations for Smith and George in addition to confirming Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. to become chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.  

While that process allowed lawmakers to sidestep the blanket hold blocking a speedy nomination process, doing so for the remaining nominees consumes considerable time on the Senate floor. 

And the list of held-up nominees continues to grow as the Defense Department responds to flashpoints around the globe.

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A pilot assigned to Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 213 prepares to launch from the USS Gerald R. Ford's flight deck in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Oct. 13, 2023. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is currently operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jackson Adkins
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In addition to leading the global coalition helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia's unprovoked invasion, the U.S. remains committed to helping Israel defend itself and to deterring further conflict in the Middle East following the deadly Hamas terrorist attack earlier this month.  

Singh said the impact of the holds reverberates across the DOD.  

"It's not just the [U.S. Central Command area of responsibility] that is being impacted by these holds," she said. "It's also [U.S. European Command] and it's here at the Pentagon. So, in all of our conversations we're advocating for all of our nominees to get through, for the holds to be lifted."

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