Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced Wednesday she will continue to hold 1,123 military promotions until she gets answers on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s promotion, despite him choosing to retire.
Last week, Duckworth announced she would block Senate confirmation of 1,123 senior military officers until Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed in writing that he would not block Vindman’s promotion to colonel.
However, Vindman announced Wednesday he was retiring from the Army. Reuters reported that Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had both approved him for promotion in a list that was “due to be sent to the White House in the coming days,” according to a senior U.S. defense official.
The official told Reuters that Esper approved the list on Monday with Vindman’s name.
Despite that, Vindman announced on Twitter he was retiring: “Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives.”
Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives. pic.twitter.com/h2D9MRUHY2
— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) July 8, 2020
Duckworth’s office released a statement saying that the senator will still hold the promotions until Esper answers her questions:
Duckworth has still not received confirmation from the Secretary of Defense that the U.S. Department of the Army submitted a list of promotions to be Colonel that included Lt. Col. Vindman, nor has the Secretary confirmed whether he sent that list to the White House for review.
As Senator Duckworth noted when she first placed this partial hold, this incident went “far beyond any single military officer, it is about protecting a merit-based system from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.” Accordingly, Senator Duckworth will keep her partial hold in place until the Secretary of Defense provides a transparent accounting of this disgraceful situation.
Duckworth said in the statement that Esper had failed to “protect” Vindman.
“Lt. Col. Vindman’s decision to retire puts the spotlight on Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s failure to protect a decorated combat Veteran against a vindictive Commander in Chief,” she said.
“Secretary Esper’s failure to protect his troops sets a new, dark precedent that any Commander in Chief can interfere with routine merit-based military promotions to carry out personal vendettas and retaliation against military officers who follow duly-authorized subpoenas while upholding their oath of office and core principles of service,” she said.
It was not clear why she made the accusation despite Esper approving Vindman’s promotion.
Duckworth is reportedly being vetted by Joe Biden as a potential vice president nominee.