The US Army chief of staff promoted eight Army general officers on Thursday, marking nearly the end of the monthslong delay of general officer promotions and confirmations due to a hold by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville.
The ceremony on Thursday was held during an annual professional forum for Army general officers in McLean, Virginia. Addressing the crowded hotel ballroom full of seated general officers and their command sergeants major, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said the day was “long overdue.”
“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, and all of us who have seen what’s been happening really for almost a year now,” Wormuth told the group. “But you all, as always, have been incredibly professional and I want to thank you for your professionalism and how you conducted yourselves through this very difficult time.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George also recognized and thanked those who have “put their lives on hold” and done “a whole bunch of unnatural things over the last nine months.”
“We talk about duty and selfless services – we just want to tell you how much we appreciate that,” he said.
The promotion comes just days after Tuberville dropped his blanket hold on military general and flag officers, done in protest of the Pentagon’s new reproductive health policies, which included a travel allowance for service members who had to travel across state lines to receive an abortion due to their home state’s laws. Now, 12 four-star generals’ nominations remain pending in the Senate.
The eight officers who were promoted Thursday – wearing civilian business attire, as is typical for the forum, as opposed to their uniforms – included now- Lt. Gen. Heidi Hoyle; Maj. Gen. Ron Ragin; Maj. Gen. Curt Taylor; Maj. Gen. Pat Work; Maj. Gen. William Green; Maj. Gen. Mary Izaguirre; Brig. Gen. Scott Woodward; and Maj. Gen. Denise Brown.
One by one, George presented the officers with their new rank. At the end, he administered the oath of office before the eight newly promoted generals were congratulated by a long and enthusiastic line of their Army colleagues.
George said ahead of the ceremony that the relatively spur-of-the-moment promotion ceremony was about people who were “vacating positions and moving around.” Indeed, at least one – Work, with the 82nd Airborne Division – is expected to deploy just hours later on Thursday.
His promotion came “just in time,” Wormuth said during the ceremony.
Roughly 200 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters out of Fort Liberty, North Carolina, recently deployed to Romania and Poland to replace soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division Headquarters. Work told CNN he would be leaving Thursday evening to join them. It would have been noticed by the allies and partners he’ll be working with in the region, he said, had he deployed on that mission as a one-star instead of the two-star general he is now.
“[Y]ou’ve got to understand the way the other perceives you … so that might be a factor to them, it’s probably realistic and practical to expect that,” Work said. “So, arriving as a two-star general on top of an American division certainly puts you in a better position than arriving as a one-star because it mitigates that all together.”
Looking forward, Wormuth said Thursday the Army would be working through “lingering disruptions” from Tuberville’s hold “as carefully as we can.” She added that she hoped the holds were a “one-off, and will not become a new normal,” emphasizing the importance of keeping uniformed officers apolitical.
Indeed, as the Army works to get officers and their families moved to their new positions, and in many cases new duty stations, George told CNN they would work through transitions individually, “just to make sure that we’re doing right by all these folks.”
“There’s a real urgency for us to get the right leaders in the seat,” George said. “We have a lot of things to do in the Army, and this is part of the reason we wanted to do this right now, to get moving.”
Among the 12 four-star generals with nominations still pending, however, is Lt. Gen. James Mingus, who was nominated to be the next vice chief