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Biden Nominates First Female Officer to Head a U.S. Military Service

Linda Fagan
Adm. Linda Fagan at her promotion to four-star rank, 2021 (USCG file image)

Published Apr 5, 2022 4:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is set to become the first U.S. military service with a female top officer. On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it has nominated Coast Guard vice commandant Adm. Linda F. Fagan to head the service as its 27th commandant. 

Adm. Fagan is the Coast Guard's first female four-star admiral, and has held the post of vice commandant since last June. Her prior post was as the commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, a command covering more than 74 million square miles of ocean from the U.S. West Coast to Asia. She also served as commander, Defense Force West, providing Coast Guard mission support to the Department of Defense. She is the longest-serving officer with a background in the Coast Guard's marine safety community. 

"President Biden has made an exceptional choice by nominating Admiral Linda F. Fagan to serve as Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. Fagan is a tremendous leader, trailblazer, and respected public servant who will lead the USCG across its critical missions with honor. Over Admiral Fagan’s 36 years in the USCG, she has served on seven continents," said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement. "Within the USCG  and across the [Department of Homeland Security], Admiral Fagan is admired as a role model of the utmost integrity, and her historic nomination is sure to inspire the next generation of women who are considering careers in military service."

Early signs indicate that Fagan's Senate confirmation process may be relatively smooth. In a joint statement, the Republican minority on the Senate Commerce Committee described Fagan as an "outstanding leader" and called for confirmation hearings to "proceed efficiently."

Pending her confirmation, Fagan will replace Adm. Karl Schultz, who is set to retire in May. Schultz has served as the Coast Guard's top officer since mid-2018, and he came to the office from the service's counter-narcotics side. His prior assignments included Director of DHS Joint Task Force-East, the interagency group that overseas the drug interdiction campaign in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean; director of operations for U.S. Southern Command; and commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District in California, which has law enforcement jurisdiction for Eastern Pacific interdictions. He is a cutterman by background and served command tours aboard the cutters Venturous, Acacia and Farallon.