The United States top officer and commandant, General Eric Smith, was rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack on Sunday evening while out jogging.
Two defense officials confirmed the incident to USNI News.
General Smith was seen on Sunday greeting runners at the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, VA before the reported heart attack.
Noah Gray, chief of communications for the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, said:
“Witnesses said that they saw an adult male running, then walk down the street and stumble, falling face-first on the sidewalk.”
“At that time, they called 911 and started chest compressions. Our crews arrived and provided CPR and transported the patient to a nearby hospital,” Gray said.
The US Marines Corps said Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, a three-star general, is performing the duties of the commandant.
Yahoo News reported:
Heckl is the deputy commandant for combat development and integration. There is no Senate-confirmed assistant commandant in place.
Smith was confirmed by the Senate on Sept. 21 and was sworn into office the following day. On Friday, Smith told reporters he was working two jobs as Marine commandant and assistant commandant of the service, as his Number 2 officer, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, had not been confirmed.
Hundreds of general and flag officer nominations are stalled in the Senate over Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on unanimous consent as he protests Pentagon policy that reimburses service members for out-of-state travel for reproductive healthcare, including abortions.
Smith commented on the situation Friday at a Military Reporters and Editors event.
“I am still doing both of those jobs and using my staff as best I can to fill in where the assistant commandant would normally be full-time, because I simply can’t be in two places at once.”
The Daily Mail reported: Smith, a career infantry officer, has commanded at every level, serving multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, including time in Fallujah and Ramadi during heavy combat in 2004 and 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He later was the senior military adviser to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and in 2019, took over as the deputy commandant for combat development.
In that post, Smith worked with his predecessor, General David Berger, on a broad campaign to transform the Marine Corps to better be able to fight amphibious wars in the Pacific after years of battling terrorist groups in the Middle East.
The plan was lauded by many in the Pentagon and Congress as a critical way for the Marines to prepare for a potential conflict with China.
Smith and Berger argued that the changes would improve the Marine Corps’ ability to fight in contested areas, particularly within striking range of an enemy.
That element is critical in the Indo-Pacific, where thousands of U.S. and allied forces are easily within missile — or even rocket — range of both China and North Korea.
But some of the moves, including the transfer of Marine tanks to the Army, triggered sharp criticism from a group of retired Marine generals.
During a speech at a naval conference in February, Smith defended the decision as critical to modern warfare against highly capable enemies.