Gen. Randy George Picked as Army’s Next Chief Amid Senate Holdup

April 25, 2023
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The Army may have a new chief of staff by the end of the summer after President Joe Biden tapped a nominee to replace Gen. James McConville — but his pick also faces a potential holdup in the Senate.

Gen. Randy George, the current Army vice chief of staff, was officially nominated last week by Biden to oversee the service and sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. McConville is set to step down and retire from military service in August after a four-year term as the service’s top officer. The term limit is set by law.

The nomination is now in the hands of the Senate, where a Republican lawmaker is delaying the confirmation of such military appointments under chamber rules due to objections over the Pentagon providing troops leave for abortions.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last month he will hold up Pentagon nominations unless Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rescinds the policy.

In February, the Pentagon announced that servicewomen can receive up to three weeks of leave to obtain an abortion — including out of state — and have their travel expenses paid.

“Sen. Tuberville’s position has not changed,” Cody Sargent, a spokesperson for the senator, told Military.com via email Friday.

His hold applies to all civilian and all general and flag officer nominations of ranks O-7 and above, according to Sargent. Tuberville’s office says the hold does not stop the Armed Services Committee from vetting and approving nominees, and the Senate could still vote on them.

However, the hold could require lengthy roll call votes on the Senate floor — where time is considered one of the most valuable political commodities — for more than 180 Pentagon nominees.

The delay could also cause a potentially unprecedented issue for the Army by forcing it to appoint an acting chief of staff or to leave the position unfilled when McConville’s tenure ends. Further complicating the situation, George is the current vice chief and would be the most likely person to fill that acting role.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for George, Lt. Col. Loni Ayers, told Military.com that the general is “honored to be considered and will wait for the results of the confirmation process before commenting on the nomination publicly.”

If George is confirmed, both of the Army’s top uniformed leaders will turn over this year, leaving the service with a new officer and enlisted leader at the helm.

“Congratulations to Gen. Randy George on his nomination as the 41st Chief of Staff of the Army,” Lt. Col. Ebony Calhoun, McConville’s spokesperson, told Military.com via email Monday. “He is a combat-proven leader who’s the right person at the right time and if confirmed will guide our Army into the future.”

McConville, an aviation officer, oversaw the Army during a transformative time as the service shifted focus from the Global War on Terror to building a force set to deter China.

During his tenure, the service has also struggled with significant recruitment issues. Last year, the Army introduced a pre-basic training program for applicants who are just outside the margins on the service’s standards for body fat or academic standards on the SAT-style entrance exam.

McConville has frequently touted those courses as a massive success for the force and as a key to combating the recruiting slump, which is mostly attributed to a shrinking pool of young Americans qualified to serve. The service fell about 15,000 soldiers short of its recruiting goal last year.

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the service’s top enlisted leader, is also set to retire later this year. Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Weimer, who is the current command sergeant major at U.S. Army Special Operations Command, will take over as the 17th sergeant major of the Army in August.

Defense News was first to report George’s nomination Monday.

George is prior enlisted, according to The Gazette, a Colorado newspaper, and entered the Army as a private before attending West Point in 1984.

In 1988, he graduated and served in the 101st Airborne Division, deploying as an infantry officer during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, according to his listed biography.

George has held every tactical command in the Army, deploying multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of those commands include 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, where he deployed to Iraq, and 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colorado, where he deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008.

Prior to his appointment as the vice chief in 2022, George commanded I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He also served as the director of force management in the Pentagon, among other assignments across the Army.

George has earned a Purple Heart, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, a Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters, a Ranger tab, a combat infantryman badge, and a senior parachutist badge with a bronze star — meaning George conducted a combat jump in his tenure — among a bevy of other awards.

— Steve Beynon contributed to this report.

— Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at drew.lawrence@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

 

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