An Alaska senator who put a hold on the nomination of the next Marine Corps commandant said he will allow the confirmation to move ahead after he worked out his concerns with the service officials.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, would not reveal to reporters what prompted his objection to Lt. Gen. David Berger taking over the job. Berger was expected to be confirmed to the post last month as part of a larger package of military nominations.
On Wednesday, Sullivan said only that the issue “is between me and Gen. Berger” and that he is dropping his opposition. Berger’s nomination could be finalized by the Senate as early as this week, unless another lawmaker voices new concerns.
Details of Sullivan’s decision to stall the process was first reported by USNI News last week. During his confirmation hearing in April, Sullivan asked Berger about the Marine Corps readiness to fight battles in cold weather terrain, referencing units that had recently visited bases in his state.
“I know it's a critical training requirement for the Marine Corps as is operating in the jungle and it's not transferable,” Berger said. “It is a skill that … if you don't practice it, it will atrophy fast.”
Sullivan did not indicate any opposition at the time.
Berger currently serves as the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. He has commanded Marines in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Berger is in line to replace current commandant, Gen. Robert Neller. If confirmed, he would also receive his fourth star.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.