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Tuberville’s military blockade creating dangerous situation at home and in Persian Gulf

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo that Tuberville’s “unprecedented, across-the-board hold is having a cascading effect.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville
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Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a memo directed to military members detailing the steps needed to fill vacant leadership roles as a consequence of U.S. Tommy Tuberville’s, R-Alabama, continuing hold on military confirmations. 

Austin wrote in the Aug. 2 memo: “This unprecedented, across-the-board hold is having a cascading effect, increasingly hindering the normal operations of this Department and undermining both our military readiness and our national security.”

Tuberville has been holding up military confirmations since March in protest of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) abortion and reproductive health care policies for military personnel. The DOD released their initial policy outlines in February, which took effect in March. The policies include paying for travel associated with military members needing to access reproductive healthcare if they are stationed in an area where it is inaccessible.

“Our Service members and their families do not control where they are stationed, and due to the nature of military service, are frequently required to travel or move to meet operational requirements.”

Austin issued directives for lower-level officers of grade 0-8 to lead organizations only in “extraordinary cases.” The Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville left his position on Friday. With McConville’s departure the military now has two vacant leadership positions including official commandant of the Marine Corps.

Gen. David Berger retired last month and because of Tuberville’s blockade, a replacement has not filled the position. This is the first time in 100 years the Marine Corps has had no official commandant.

Austin’s memo came two days after President Joe Biden’s decision to keep Space Command in Colorado rather than move it to Huntsville, Alabama. Several sources have said that part of the reason Biden elected to keep SPACECOM in Colorado is due to Tuberville’s actions.

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Tubervile’s hold on military promotions also exasperates an already dangerous situation in the Persian Gulf, where U.S. forces are on high alert after Iran attempted to seize merchant ships in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Politico.

“Let me be clear,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday, “in our dangerous world, the security of the United States demands orderly and prompt transitions of our confirmed military leaders,” referring to Tuberville’s one-person bulwark.

APR asked Tuberville during an event last week if the senator regretted his decision, to which he replied, “no.” Tubrville said he did not regret it because he felt it was his only option to get Biden and other leaders to listen. 

Republicans often claim to be the party that supports the military over their rival Democrats. However, the Alabama Republican Party is siding with Tuberville despite the “harms” Austin says he is inflicting on hundreds of military members.

During a summer meeting on Saturday the Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution criticizing President Joe Biden and his administration’s abortion policy for military members. The resolution also stated that it, “supports Senator Tommy Tuberville for standing up against the Biden Administration’s flawed policy.”

Republicans also routinely mention the threat of Iran to America’s national security. According to Politico, there are rising tensions in the Persian Gulf yet Tuberville’s promotional impediment is upholding two military officials from moving into positions related to operations in the Gulf. 

Austin has spoken with Tuberville about the blockade at least twice but the Alabama senator does not look to end his protest any time soon. 

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Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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