Gen. Eric Smith, now commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks with Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug. 16, 2023.

Gen. Eric Smith, now commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks with Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug. 16, 2023. (Rachaelanne Woodward/U.S. Marine Corps)

WASHINGTON — Gen. Eric Smith, who was recently confirmed as the new commandant of the Marine Corps, has been hospitalized due to an emergency, the service said Monday.

Smith experienced a “medical emergency” Sunday night and was immediately taken to a hospital, the Marine Corps said.

The service did not specify whether Smith was at home during the emergency or address the nature or severity of his medical condition.

Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the most senior officer at Marine Corps headquarters, is performing the duties of the commandant, the service said.

Heckl is the commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

President Joe Biden nominated Smith in May to succeed Gen. David Berger as the Marine Corps commandant, which is the top-ranking position in the service. But Smith’s appointment was delayed — along with those of hundreds of other top military officers — by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., over a Pentagon policy that reimburses expenses to troops who want to travel to other states to get reproductive care, including abortions.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in September placed several of the top nominations — including those of Smith and Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — up for individual votes on the Senate floor. Smith was confirmed as the commandant in a 96-0 vote. Usually, large numbers of nominations are confirmed through voice votes.

Before Smith became commandant, he served in the Marine Corps for 36 years and deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. He attempted to crack down on hazing and sexual assault when overseeing Marines in California and said in an August message to service members that he will continue to work to eliminate issues that cause division.

“I owe you a command climate where honest mistakes can be made, where Marines are treated like professionals and where discipline is central to who we are,” Smith wrote.

As a general officer, he commanded U.S. Marine Corps Forces Southern Command, 1st Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

Stars and Stripes reporter Svetlana Shkolnikova contributed to this report.

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Doug G. Ware covers the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. He has many years of experience in journalism, digital media and broadcasting and holds a degree from the University of Utah. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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