Marine Corps Commandant hospitalized with ‘medical emergency’

Gen. Eric Smith was just confirmed to lead the Marine Corps in late September after protests from a Republican Senator
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Marine corps commandant
Gen. Eric Smith, acting commandant of the Marine Corps, was hospitalized on Sunday with a medical emergency. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The head of the Marine Corps is in the hospital after a medical emergency, according to the service.

Gen. Eric M. Smith, the Marine Corps Commandant had a medical emergency on Sunday evening.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration and commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, is serving as acting Commandant. Heckl was elevated to the temporary role as the next-senior officer assigned to Marine Corps headquarters.

Smith’s ascension to the role of Commandant was at the center of a political fight in the Senate last month. Smith was confirmed in late September when Senate leaders brought his name, along with two other pending service chiefs, to the floor of the body for confirmation, a move that skipped over an administrative hold on general officers put in place by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). 

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Tuberville held up Smith and about 400 other general officers’ promotions in protest of the Defense Department’s health policy which covers the travel expenses of servicemembers who seek reproductive care including abortions when those procedures are banned in the state they are stationed.

The Marine Corps did not offer additional details about Smith’s condition.

Heckl, a career helicopter pilot, served combat tours in senior leadership positions in Iraq in 2008 and 2010. He’s also served as a requirements officer, J3 Director of Operations for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Marine Aide to the Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, and U.S. naval support for NATO.

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