Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been on the warpath lately. Blocking nearly 450 promotions since he announced his plans, he is holding out until Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rescinds a policy for travel for abortions by servicemembers. Career progression and retaining leaders be damned. Now the problems with this policy are starting to be felt deeply as a two-star general who should have been promoted has now elected to turn in his retirement papers instead.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth spoke on Tuberville’s plan during the Politico defense summit recently. During those remarks, she expressed concerns that this would happen, and characterizing the General’s attitude about retirement she said, “I don’t have certainty and I think what’s best for me and for my family is to just go ahead and pull my papers.” She doesn’t think he’s alone either. “I would expect that if we don’t see the Senate resolve this hold by Christmas there will be more of those.”
With another yearly round of military promotions coming up, Tuberville is sending ripples through the services with his decisions. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said on November 13th that the Pentagon is in a bit of a panic over the delayed promotions. This feeling comes for a good reason too.
For Tuberville, he doesn’t see the ripple effect of his decision-making on the military. While promotions for officers that are below field grade (MAJ) aren’t being directly impacted, the secondhand damage by freezing these promotions is horrific. As people await orders to move to a new duty station and advance their career as well as get promoted, the people below them are stuck unable to move or be promoted as well. This creates a bottleneck of officers and keeps all careers stagnant.
Even the enlisted side is impacted by this decision. With soldiers being stuck under ineffective or poorly educated leadership, they find themselves unable to grow and become more effective in their careers. Multiple evaluations with the same rating chain, because officers couldn’t change station or be promoted, is not a good sign for senior leaders either. It makes them look ineffective and can lead to their dismissal.
Warmuth also warned about the continuation of this delay in promotions. “In the long term, I have deep concerns about what my majors, colonels, and lieutenant colonels are thinking about this. They already see the increasing partisanship in our nation … and now where we have a situation where the toothpaste is out of the tube, and general officers and flag officers can have their nominations put on hold I think we’re going to have some of our general officers and flag officers say, ‘I don’t know if this is what I want to continue to aspire to.’”
In essence, many are finding themselves occupying multiple seats to keep the ranks filled as officers begin to retire as a result of this delay. Fulfilling the duties of the officer above them or below them, an already overstretched resource is being driven to its breaking point, and not being offered an opportunity to get fixed, all because one Senator wants to throw a temper tantrum.
The hard reality for Sen. Tuberville is that he is confusing the impact of the policy. The fact of the matter is, this act allowed troops time and travel expenses for an abortion or fertility treatments. Statistically, neither of those problems is impacting officers or warrant officers at the same rates it is enlisted servicemembers. Especially for those from SSG (E-6) and below. As a larger section of the overall military, they felt the impacts of this decision, and for those needing these services, this was a relief.
Simply put, the impacts of his decision are nothing but officer business. It should not impact nor concern lower enlisted service members. Yet as they watch the people who are guiding the directives they receive being passed over, delayed, or choosing to retire, they too become discouraged. They lose out on training opportunities and unit activities.
It’s time for this Senator to learn his place. He doesn’t belong meddling in military affairs like this. It’s disrespectful, and dishonest, and makes people suffer to push his agenda. This isn’t a conservative standing up for the unborn, this is more like a whining liberal crying because he didn’t get his way.