Services scramble to promote senior leaders after Tuberville hold

by Tommy Grant

The military services are wasting no time working through a backlog of promotable senior leaders after Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., relented on his hold of more than 400 senior officer promotions Tuesday.

While the Senate has since voted to confirm their nominations en masse, the services have to work through approving each promotion, prioritizing officers who have been waiting the longest or those who are moving into roles that have been vacant during the hold.

The Army on Thursday threw together a promotion ceremony for eight senior leaders attending a professional development conference outside of Washington, D.C.

“Well, this is not a typical ceremony … but these are not typical times. And certainly, what all of you and many others who will be promoted in the coming days and weeks have been through is not typical at all,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said. “I think it’s fair to say that the last several months have been quite hard and very frustrating for all of you and your families.”

Among the promotees was now-Maj. Gen. William Green, Jr., the Army’s deputy chief of chaplains, who gave the invocation at the ceremony, who had been serving as the acting chief of chaplains as he awaited his promotion.

The others included Lt. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, to be the Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics; Maj Gen. Ron Ragin, of the 21st Sustainment Command; Maj. Gen. Curtis Taylor of Fort Irwin, California; Maj. Gen. Pat Work, who recently took command of the 82nd Airborne Division; Maj. Gen. Mary Izaguirre, who will be promoted again and take over as the Army’s surgeon general when the current one retires; Maj. Gen. Denise Brown of the Army’s command, control and communications office; and Brig. Gen. Scott Woodward, deputy commander of the Army’s Combined Arms Center.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, whose own promotion was held up for weeks this year, thanked “all of those who put their life on hold and did a whole bunch of unnatural things here over the last nine months … we just want to tell you how much we appreciate that.”

The Air Force told Military Times on Thursday that it’s working through a long list of promotable officers that were selected at the beginning of the year.

They include an inspector general, an astronaut and the Pentagon’s press secretary, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, whose promotions will be considered effective since Tuesday.

The Air Force is coordinating its promotions based on when the officers can move into their new jobs, a service spokesperson told Military Times on Thursday.

The Marine Corps promoted Lt. Gen. James Adams on Wednesday, the service confirmed, then moved to his new role as deputy commandant for programs and resources.

The Navy was not able to provide responses to Military Times as of Friday afternoon.

While Tuberville released the confirmations of more than 400 senior officers on Tuesday, he has said he will continue to hold back 11 four-star nominees, which include the vice chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as multiple combatant commanders.

“I also want to note that I’m very hopeful that all of the folks in the Senate who have been watching this as it’s unfolded, understand that very clearly the consequences of this very unprecedented hold and see it now for what it was and how harmful it was,” Wormuth added. “And that this will not become a new normal, you know.”

Tuberville has said he believes that the most senior military leaders need more vetting before confirmation, but has not offered details on what that would look like.

“And you know, we have extremely high standards for our leaders and you all have had a set of experiences that prepare you for the roles that you’re about to take on,” Wormuth said Thursday.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.

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