Ten months is a mighty long time to wait, particularly when you’re a military officer waiting on a promotion that has already been granted.
That had been the fate of two generals stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne over the past 10 months.
Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed more than 400 military nominees after U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, announced he would drop the bulk of his holds, ending a months long standoff.
Tuberville initiated his standoff to block 425 confirmations in protest of the U.S. Department of Defense's policy that allows service members to be reimbursed for travel costs related to getting abortions. The policy is still in place.
Retired Col. Tucker Fagan, former wing commander of F.E. Warren, downplayed the significance of the standoff and said individual military nominations have been routinely blocked throughout the years.
“It’s a dance,” he said.
The only difference here was that so many nominations were being blocked at one time.
Commanders Solve Problems
Fagan said he recently offered input and a possible solution to the chief of staff of the Air Force about Tuberville’s hold. He said commanders are charged with coming up with solutions to problems.
“Is there a solution? I believe there is,” he said. “I believe there is a solution where Tuberville wins and the administration wins.”
Whether a compromise has been brokered and what it is has not publicly been revealed. Fagan would not say what his proposed solution was, nor does he know if it’s being acted upon.
The debate over Tuberville’s hold echoed the purpose of the Hyde Amendment, which largely prevents federal money being used to fund abortions.
In November, Wyoming U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis, along with 25 other Republican senators, sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense demanding the administration rescind the policy.
This policy was designed to reimburse service members who have to travel out-of-state to get an abortion because the state they are stationed in has outlawed the practice.
At F.E. Warren, Maj. Gen. Michael Lutton has been confirmed for his third star to the rank of lieutenant general. Lutton will soon depart for the position of deputy commander, Air Force Global Strike Command, at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
Lutton had been stationed at F.E. Warren since 2020 as commander of the 20th Air Force, Air Force Global Strike Command. It was his second stint at F.E. Warren, as he served as a missile combat crew commander and senior instructor commander at the base from 1991-1995.
From 2018-2020, he was the deputy director for Nuclear and Homeland Defense Operations at the Pentagon.
Brig. Gen. Stacy Jo Huser has been confirmed for her second star to the rank of major general with a follow-on assignment pending release. Huser had been stationed at F.E. Warren since August as Lutton’s special assistant. Huser also was commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren from 2017-2019.
“It’s an exciting time. I’m grateful for all the Air Force has done during this transition to care for me and, more importantly, my family, and I’m glad to see many leaders across the Air Force transition into their selected roles,” Huser said.
There are 4,200 personnel stationed at F.E. Warren with approximately 4,300 family members.
Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, derided Tuberville’s actions.
“Let this incident be a warning,” Schumer said. “No one — no one — should attempt this in the Senate again. The senior senator from Alabama has nothing to show for his 10 months of delay.”
Even former Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley denounced Tuberville's effort, saying in August that his blockade was negatively affecting service members and military readiness.
Fagan believes Schumer was grandstanding and noted how the Senate theoretically could have approved each of the 425 nominations one by one, a painstakingly slow but valid solution to the problem that carried on for nearly a year.
“He was trying to make a point,” Fagan said of Schumer. “That was just holding a position until that got worked out.”
Although abortion is legal in Wyoming, there is about to be only one facility that offers the service in the state. For the military members stationed at F.E. Warren in Cheyenne, the closest abortion clinic is across state lines in Fort Collins, Colorado.
All of the 425 nominations were approved unanimously on Tuesday.
Tuberville lifted his hold on military promotions three-star rank and below, which still leaves some higher-level military members in limbo.
“I’m releasing everybody. I still got a hold on, I think, 11 four-star generals. Everybody else is completely released from me.” Tuberville told reporters, according to NBC News. “But other than that, it’s over.”
Schumer said the Senate "will work to confirm the rest of the nominees" whom Tuberville is blocking "soon."
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.