U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall talked to CNN’s Jim Acosta about Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and his blockade on hundreds of military promotions over the Pentagon’s policies on abortion and heaven forbid allowing women access to reproductive health care. Kendall was one of three service secretaries to rip Tuberville in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post.
Acosta had some follow up for Kendall during his show this Saturday.
ACOSTA: What are the most troubling effects of this? If this continues on, the stalemate keeps going?
KENDALL: Basically it puts us in a situation where a great many of our organizations are being led by temporary leadership. People are holding down, you know, the position until the person who’s intended to come in, can come in.
So basically the organizations will defend the country. There’s not a grave risk there. But the organizations can’t move forward. They can’t do the things they need to do to improve their posture relative to the threat. They can’t do things to increase efficiency. They can’t put a strategy in place.
And it’s very debilitating to the morale of our people as you can imagine that these holds are in place.
ACOSTA: Yeah. And has this ever happened before, something like this?
KENDALL: It’s totally unprecedented. The Senate routinely confirms general officers and lower ranking officers by unanimous consent. So, but the way the process works, as we’re seeing here, a single senator can stop that. It’s never been done before.
Senator Tuberville has no experience in the military. This is his first time I think in public service, and I don’t think he appreciates how much of an impact this having and how negative an impact it is for the military.
After watching a clip of Tuberville claiming that he wouldn’t be doing this if it was harming our military, and Acosta asked Kendall to respond to the senator’s assertion that he isn’t doing any real harm, and his recent op-ed explaining that yes, he is, and exactly how.
KENDALL: Absolutely. I think he doesn’t understand what’s happening here. Every year we move about a third of our officers to new assignments, including our general officers. Every year a number of people retire, and they leave positions vacant that need to be filled by new people.
So by not allowing people to move forward through the promotion process we’re simply stopping all of that. We have people all over the country who cannot move to a new organization. It’s having a big impact on their families. It’s very disruptive, very debilitating. It’s basically is like throwing a big monkey wrench into the works of the Department of Defense.
Kendall was asked whether Tuberville has had this explained to him by the other secretaries and whether he was receptive to those conversations. Kendall told Acosta he believed he had, but that he had not personally spoken to him, and that he would have no objections to doing so.
Acosta asked Kendall whether this represented a national security threat, which Tubervill has asserted it hasn’t.
KENDALL: It is a national security problem. We need leadership in place that can be there and can move our organizations forward. We’re obviously watching closely, tapping in, assisting Ukraine, China’s becoming an increasingly severe concern over time. We cannot be — cannot afford to stand still while our potential adversaries are moving forward.
Kendall then proceeded to explain in more detail the stress this is putting on military families who are being left in limbo.
Don’t expect this to make a dent in Tuberville’s obstruction until his own party decides they’ve finally had enough of him. Rep. Adam Smith is exactly right that it’s long past time they change the rules of the Senate to put a stop to this sort of nonsense.