The commandant of the Marine Corps remains hospitalized after having a cardiac arrest on Sunday but is making “excellent progress” in his recovery, the service announced late Friday afternoon.
Following his stay at an undisclosed Washington, D.C. hospital, Gen. Eric Smith is expected to continue his recovery at home.
“Once he is discharged from the hospital, he will continue his recovery at his military quarters, but will need to focus on his health prior to fully returning to duty,” reads the statement.
“His baseline physical health has directly contributed to his rapid improvement and he is recovering as expected.”
As Smith recovers, leadership of the service will be up to the newly sworn-in Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who was confirmed on Thursday by the Senate.
“Gen. Smith is extremely proud of how the Marine Corps continues to protect our nation throughout this trying time,” reads the statement. “Despite his absence, Marines remain forward deployed and ready to respond to current threats while simultaneously modernizing for the future.”
Smith went into cardiac arrest on Sunday while jogging near his quarters in Southeast Washington and was rushed to a local hospital, according to defense officials.
Last week, Smith told reporters he’d been doing both the commandant and assistant commandant jobs due to the vacancy. Smith served as the assistant commandant for two years before his confirmation last month.
Smith’s medical emergency prompted movement on the backlog of unconfirmed military nominees awaiting confirmation in Congress, a Senate aide told USNI News this week.
Since February, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has put holds on confirming military nominees by unanimous content over the Defense Department’s policy that reimburses service for out-of-state travel for reproductive care, including abortions, which Tuberville argues is illegal.
The hold on unanimous consent prevents the Senate from approving military nominations in large quantities. Nearly 400 general and flag officers are stalled in the upper chamber due to the hold.
Following Smith’s hospitalization, Tuberville wanted to move Mahoney’s nomination through to the floor, a Senate aide told USNI News this week.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on the nominations of Mahoney, Adm. Lisa Franchetti to serve as the chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin to serve as the next chief of staff of the Air Force.
Smith, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. C.Q. Brown and were confirmed in September following a similar move from Tuberville.
Schumer has otherwise refused to put military members up for a voice vote.
The following is the complete Nov. 3, 2023, statement from the Marine Corps.
HEADQUARTERS, MARINE CORPS – General Smith is making excellent progress following sudden cardiac arrest earlier this week. His baseline physical health has directly contributed to his rapid improvement and he is recovering as expected. Once he is discharged from the hospital, he will continue his recovery at his military quarters, but will need to focus on his health prior to fully returning to duty.
He congratulates and appreciates that General Mahoney was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the 37th Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps by Secretary Del Toro. General Smith is also aware that General Mahoney additionally is performing the duties of the Commandant, until such time that General Smith can resume his normal duties.
The Smith family is exceedingly grateful for the outpouring of support for General Smith. They are also appreciative of the privacy that has been extended to them as they focus on General Smith’s health and recovery.
General Smith is extremely proud of how the Marine Corps continues to protect our Nation throughout this trying time. Despite his absence, Marines remain forward deployed and ready to respond to current threats while simultaneously modernizing for the future.