Nomination of Air Force Officer at Center of GOP's Fight Against 'Woke' Military Extended to 2025

U.S. Air Force Col. Ben Jonsson
U.S. Air Force Col. Ben Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, recognizes Maj. Rhea McFarland, a pilot assigned to the 14th Airlift Squadron, for her involvement in planning a “flightline rodeo” for civic leaders from the Tampa Bay area at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, April 21, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin)

An Air Force officer whose promotion to brigadier general has been stalled by a Republican senator fighting against diversity initiatives in the military has been granted another year to try to win Senate confirmation.

Col. Ben Jonsson's nomination to become a one-star general was set to expire May 1 under a law that says military officer promotions that require Senate confirmation must be approved within 18 months after they are first nominated.

But the law also allows nominations to be extended for another 12 months, if the president chooses to do so. Jonsson was granted that extension, making the new deadline for his confirmation May 1, 2025, a Defense Department official told

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Jonsson, who currently serves as chief of staff at Air Mobility Command and garnered attention in 2020 for writing a fiery op-ed against racism in the military, has become an avatar for conservative lawmakers and pundits' fight against what they consider to be a left-wing agenda infiltrating the military. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., has used a procedural tactic known as a hold to block Jonsson's confirmation.

Jonsson was originally one of hundreds of military officers whose promotions were stalled last year by the monthslong blockade Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., maintained against military confirmations in protest of the Pentagon's abortion policy.

When Tuberville ended his blanket hold on all senior military officer promotions in December, Schmitt announced he was placing a hold on a few officers as part of a fight to "eradicate" diversity, equity and inclusion programs he labeled "divisive." Schmitt has since dropped his hold on every officer but Jonsson.

A hold cannot prevent a nominee from being confirmed, but it means the Senate must take a roll call vote rather than approving the nominee in a voice vote as it typically does for military officers. Senate Democratic leaders have largely resisted roll call votes for military officers with holds on them, arguing that doing so risks irreparably politicizing the military promotions process.

Schmitt's December statement did not cite any specific actions Jonsson took to warrant a hold. But conservative media and advocacy groups have largely focused on an op-ed that Jonsson wrote in July 2020 about systemic racism in the military.

In the the Air Forces Times op-ed, written in the wake of the racial justice protests that roiled America that summer, Jonsson called on his fellow white colonels to recognize that "we are largely blind to institutional racism, and we take offense to any suggestion that our system advantaged us at the expense of others."

Jonsson's critics argue the op-ed proves that "woke" politics have crept into the military in place of a warfighting mentality. His friends and other defenders, meanwhile, maintain he is being maligned and his career is being jeopardized for following the lead that senior Air Force leaders were setting at the time he wrote the op-ed.

While Jonsson has now been given an extra year to win Senate confirmation before his career would effectively be ended, it's unclear whether the extra time will help as Schmitt continues to keep his hold.

Schmitt's office did not respond to a request for comment Monday on any updates about his hold or thoughts on the extension of Jonsson's nomination.

Related: A Promising Air Force Officer Took a Stand Against Racism. Now, His Career Is in Political Jeopardy.

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