July 02, 2020

Duckworth Announces Blanket Hold on Senior Military Confirmations Following Reports of Trump’s Unprecedented Political Interference into Military Promotion Process

Combat Veteran seeking written confirmation from Defense Secretary that he will stick to his word and not retaliate against Lt. Col. Vindman’s expected and earned promotion to Colonel


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) who served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years, announced her intention to block Senate confirmation of 1,123 senior U.S. Armed Forces promotions until Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirms in writing that he did not, or will not, block the expected and deserved promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to Colonel. Duckworth’s move, which is unprecedented in modern times and includes all military promotions above the rank of O6 except for the nominee to be Chief Operating Officer of the operation aimed at improving the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, comes as a response to numerous reports of unprecedented political interference in military matters by Donald Trump, who may be seeking to retaliate against a military officer for complying with a lawfully issued congressional subpoena.

“When I showed up at basic training, it didn’t matter who I was, all that mattered was that I could shoot straight and whether I was capable of leading when it was my turn to be the platoon leader—that’s how it’s supposed to be,” said Duckworth. “Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy. It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any Commander in Chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a Soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth—a Soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance. I won’t just sit by and let it happen, and neither should any of my colleagues. This goes far beyond any single military officer, it is about protecting a merit-based system from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.”

The Senator’s response to reports of undue political interference in the merit-based promotion of Lt. Col. Vindman follows numerous efforts by Donald Trump to politicize the nation’s Armed Forces. While these efforts have plagued the entire Trump Administration, there have been a marked and troubling increase in both number and severity of these efforts by the President in recent months, including threatening to use active-duty servicemembers to quell peaceful civilian protests, using the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as props for a photo op, deploying military helicopters—including a medevac helicopter with an international Red Cross symbol on it—to intimidate American civilians and insisting, in an effort to score political points, on honoring traitors who raised arms against our union to maintain their ability to enslave and kill Black Americans.

Senator Duckworth will lift her hold on these nominations if and when Secretary Esper provides written confirmation of:

  1. Whether the Army Competitive Category promotion board for Lieutenant Colonel (O5) to Colonel (O6) included Lt. Col. Vindman among its selection for promotion to O6,
  2. If so, whether the Army included Lt. Col. Vindman on its list of promotions to O6 that it sent to the Pentagon, and
  3. If so, whether Secretary Esper or his designee will (or has) submitted a list of Army promotions to O6 to the White House for approval that includes (or included) Lt. Col. Vindman.