Marine Corps Breaks 160 Year Old Record

Photo by Hannah Skelly on Unsplash

After Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s private retirement ceremony and relinquish-of-command ceremony on Monday (July 10), the U.S. Marine Corps is without a confirmed leader for the first time in 164 years.

Gen. Eric Smith, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, assumed leadership during the relinquish-of-command ceremony at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, D.C. 

In May, President Joe Biden proposed Smith head up the service. Without a second-in-command because of the hold, Smith is likely to function as the acting commandant while continuing in his position as assistant commandant.

The Marine Corps was last without a leader after Commandant Archibald Henderson’s passing in 1859. 

This milestone was made possible because of Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (Ala.) reaction to the Pentagon’s post-Dobbs abortion policy, which was implemented earlier this year. 

Tuberville is preventing more than 250 military promotions from moving quickly through the Senate. 

Tuberville is boycotting the Pentagon’s policy that will pay for travel expenses and time off for service personnel needing an abortion in states that forbids the operation. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have deemed Tuberville’s hold a national security threat.

Austin stated that this hold affects readiness without criticizing Tuberville and urged the Senate to confirm these military officials.

In his remarks, Austin highlighted that “Smooth and timely transitions” of leadership are “central” to U.S. defense. 

Berger agreed with those sentiments, stating that the Senate has “to do their job” to ensure the Marine Corps could have a “sitting commandant that’s appointed and confirmed.”