WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, the current Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, has been nominated to become the service’s vice-chief.
In response to a question at the Defense News Conference today, Slife confirmed that he would be the nominee, but declined to go into detail, saying he’ll talk more once things are “further down the process.”
Before taking his current role at the start of 2023, Slife led Air Force Special Operations Command for four years. He would replace Gen. David Allvin, the current vice-chief, who himself has been tapped to replace Gen. CQ Brown, the current service chief of staff and President Joe Biden’s pick to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Of course, it’s an open question when Slife might get to take the seat. All nominations for Pentagon roles are currently in a de facto hold by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who is trying to force the department to change its abortion access policy for military servicemembers.
Tuberville’s actions are not technically a full hold, as the Senate Armed Services Committee can still move nominations to the whole Senate. However, the junior senator from Alabama is holding up the use of unanimous consent — a way to quickly vote huge swaths of military nominations forward — meaning Senate Democrats have to hold a floor debate on each individual nominee, a painfully slow process and one that would eat up floor time needed for other priorities from the Biden administration, including the ongoing budget negotiations.
As a result, the Pentagon says over 300 general and flag officers have had their appointments stalled.
In a rare joint interview last night, the three service secretaries appeared on CNN to blast Tuberville, with Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro saying the senator’s hold is “playing Russian roulette with the very lives of our servicemembers,” and Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall warning, “Our potential adversaries are paying attention to this. It is affecting how they view the United States and our military capabilities and support for the military. This needs to stop.”