Tommy Ruberville
“Coach’ Tommy Tuberville. Image from his Twitter page

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro accused Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville of “aiding and abetting” communists and hurting military readiness with his continued hold on senior military promotions.

“As someone who was born in a communist country, I never would have imagined that actually one of our own senators would actually be aiding and abetting communist and other autocratic regimes around the world,” said Del Toro, who was born in Cuba, during a CNN interview on Tuesday.

Tuberville, a Republican who was a football coach before being elected to the Senate, has put holds on the nominations of 301 senior military leaders to protest the Pentagon’s policy of covering travel expenses for service members who must leave a state to receive abortion care.

The Tuberville holds have already resulted in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps being led by officers in “acting” capacities. 

“This is having a real negative impact and will continue to have a real negative impact on our combat readiness,” Del Toro told CNN.

The three civilian leaders of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Army, including Del Toro, Frank Kendall, and Christine Wormuth, criticized Tuberville’s hold in an op-ed published Monday in The Washington Post.

“Each of us has seen the stress this hold is inflicting up and down the chain of command, whether in the halls of the Pentagon or at bases and outposts around the world,” the three wrote.

“Any claim that holding up the promotions of top officers does not directly damage the military is wrong — plain and simple.”

Tuberville, who has not served in the military, responded on Twitter that “the longer the hold continues, the more time we have to do oversight and look into the backgrounds of these nominees.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.