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.
Immediate details regarding Smith’s condition and the nature of the emergency remain undisclosed. Nonetheless, a statement from the Marine Corps affirms Smith’s hospital admission, with Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, stepping in to assume the duties of the Commandant.
Appointed in late September, Smith assumed the vital role of the Marine Corps’ highest-ranking official. As a member of the esteemed Joint Chiefs of Staff, he assumes the responsibility of overseeing the readiness and resources of the service, while also providing counsel to the president and defense secretary on military affairs.
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 because he objected to a Pentagon policy that permits service members to receive reimbursement for out-of-state travel related to reproductive care, including abortions.
In the absence of a confirmed assistant commandant, Smith has been shouldering the responsibilities of both the commandant and the assistant commandant.
Smith’s most recent public appearance was on Sunday afternoon, where he warmly greeted the runners crossing the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia. However, during his statement on Friday, he mentioned that he would be assuming the duties of the assistant commandant until the confirmation of Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who has been nominated for the position.
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.
However, it was later reported that the Marine General had a heart attack. Oh, another mysterious heart attack?
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 condition of Smith is being closely monitored by both the Marine Corps and the Senate, and updates will be provided as soon as they become available.