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Biden Nominates First Woman, Admiral Franchetti, to Lead US Navy

Franchetti to lead US Navy
Adminral Lisa Franchetti was nominated to become the first women to lead the U.S. Navy and be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Photo by Lance Cpl. Cody Purcell, U.S. Marines)

Published Jul 21, 2023 7:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

President Joe Biden on Friday announced his nominations for four of the top posts in the U.S. Navy including his selection of the Admiral Lisa Franchetti as nominee for Chief of Naval Operations, the senior most position in the U.S. Navy. If confirmed, Franchetti will be not only the first woman to serve as Chief of Naval Operations but also become the first woman in the most senior leadership roles of the U.S. military, including a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the eight-member advisory board to the president and defense secretary on the operations of the military.

While one of the names on the shortlist and recognized as a strong candidate for the leadership role, the news of her appointment came as a surprise to many observers. Reports are saying that Admiral Samuel Paparo, currently commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and with extensive experience serving in the Indo-Pacific region was thought to be the frontrunner. Biden announced simultaneously that he is nominating Paparo to become Commander of Indo-Pacific Command.

Administration officials are quick to point out that Franchetti is a widely respected officer with broad experience. During her 38-year career with the Navy, she has held a broad range of positions including commander of US Naval Forces Korea, they are noting.

Franchetti’s official bio includes a long list of accomplishments. She received her commission in 1985 and her operational tours included roles on no less than seven vessels ranging from operations officer to commands. Ashore she has had a broad range of experiences in operations areas including the Atlantic, Korea, Africa, carrier strike groups, and receiving several distinguished service medals. She assumed duties as Vice Chief of Naval Operations in September 2022.

“Throughout her career, Admiral Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas,” said President Biden announcing her nomination. “She is the second woman ever to achieve the rank of four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and when confirmed, she will again make history as the first woman to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

The nomination is in keeping with Biden’s commitment to diversity and having a modern military that reflects the country. She marks another first for the Biden administration in its efforts to modernize the Defense Department. The administration includes Lloyd Austin as the first Black secretary of defense, Christine Wormuth as the first female Army secretary, and recently nominated Air Force General C.Q. Brown to become Army Chief of Staff and the first Black for that position. While not part of the Department of Defense, Biden also appointed Admiral Linda Fagan as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the first woman to lead the service.

Lloyd Austin immediately issued a statement today saying that each of the admirals nominated will help to ensure that the U.S. Navy remains the finest military force and is well prepared to address the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. Biden’s other nominations are Vice Admiral James Kirby for Vice Chief of Naval Operations replacing Franchetti and Vice Admiral Stephen Koehler as Commander of Pacific Fleet.

Senior military nominations made by the president however must be approved by the U.S. Senate. All of Biden’s nominees are currently being held up by a single U.S. senator, Tommy Tuberville, who is protesting policies including the Defense Department paying for the cost of abortions and military diversity programming. Biden has called out Tuberville saying his actions are wrong and dangerous to the U.S. military. Biden repeated his calls today for quick approval of the military nominees.