Marine General Hospitalized
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized on Sunday evening after suffering an apparent medical emergency, according to two defense officials who spoke to USNI News.
The details of Smith's condition and the nature of the emergency were not immediately available. However, a statement from the Marine Corps confirmed that Smith was admitted to the hospital and that Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, is now performing the duties of the Commandant.
Smith, who was confirmed as the Marine Corps' top leader in late September, is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the commandant, he is responsible for overseeing the service's readiness and resources while also advising the president and the defense secretary on military matters.
According to the statement from the Marine Corps, Heckl is the most senior officer within Headquarters, Marine Corps. There is currently no Senate-confirmed assistant commandant, as Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has blocked the confirmation of nearly 400 general and flag officers due to his objection to a Pentagon policy that allows service members to be reimbursed for out-of-state travel for reproductive care, including abortions.
With the absence of a confirmed assistant commandant, Smith had been performing the duties of both the commandant and the assistant commandant.
Smith's last public appearance was on Sunday afternoon, when he greeted runners at the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia. However, he had mentioned on Friday that he was taking on the responsibilities of the assistant commandant until Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who has been nominated for the role, is confirmed.
In a statement released on Monday, the Marine Corps said that there will be no further information on Smith's condition at this time, out of respect for his family's wishes. The service also asked for privacy during this time.
Smith's hospitalization comes as a blow to the Marine Corps, as he was just recently confirmed as the top leader of the service. It is unclear at this time when he will be released from the hospital and resume his duties as the Marine Corps commandant.
Meanwhile, Sen. Sullivan (R-Alaska) has expressed his concern about the delay in confirming military nominees, particularly those for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He, along with Sen. Tuberville, is pushing to confirm Adm. Lisa Franchetti as chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as chief of staff of the Air Force.
The Marine Corps and the Senate are both closely monitoring Smith's condition, and updates will be provided when available.