Female admiral nominated to be Navy’s next top officer, 1st woman on Joint Chiefs of Staff
Stars and Stripes July 21, 2023
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the Navy’s next top officer, which would make her the first woman to be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if she is confirmed by the Senate.
“Franchetti will bring 38 years of dedicated service to our nation as a commissioned officer, including in her current role of vice chief of naval operations,” Biden said. “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.”
Adm. Linda Fagan became commandant of the Coast Guard in June but the service is not part of the Joint Chiefs. The Coast Guard is operated by the Department of Homeland Security, not the Defense Department.
Franchetti, 59, joined the Navy in the mid-1980s and has held several commands, including the Sixth Fleet, Naval Forces Korea, the USS Ross and multiple carrier strike groups. She will succeed Adm. Michael Gilday as chief of naval operations – the highest-ranking officer in the Navy and key adviser to the Navy secretary. Gilday retires Aug. 21.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Franchetti grew up in New York and was commissioned in the Navy in 1985. She’s served on several ships and was once assistant to the Navy secretary. Franchetti has also attended the Naval War College in Rhode Island and earned a master’s degree in organizational management.
Biden on Friday also nominated three other Navy leaders. He nominated Vice Adm. James Kilby to be vice chief of naval operations, Adm. Samuel Paparo as commander of Indo-Pacific Command, and Vice Adm. Stephen Koehler as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“[They] represent the best of the United States Navy. Together, these four highly decorated naval officers have extensive operational and command experience,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “I’m very proud that Adm. Franchetti has been nominated to be the first woman chief of naval operations and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where she will continue to inspire all of us.”
However, when the Pentagon sent its official recommendation to the White House in June, Austin’s top choice for the post was Paparo, according to several news reports at the time.
Paparo, 58, has served in the Navy for close to 40 years and commanded Naval Forces Central, the Fifth Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces in the past. He also holds numerous decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Superior Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. If confirmed, he would succeed Adm. John Aquilino as leader of Indo-Pacific Command.
It’s not yet known, however, when Franchetti might formally ascend to the top Navy job. She joins a long list of military officers who have been promoted, but are unable to receive swift Senate confirmation due a block of the votes by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Tuberville has been singlehandedly blocking more than 200 military promotions over his opposition to a Pentagon policy that reimburses travel expenses for service members who must travel to another state for reproductive health care. The policy is the result of several states severely restricting or banning abortions in the past year.
Senate rules allow one senator to hold up what is usually an expedited confirmation process on the floor of the upper chamber. Tuberville has repeatedly defended his action, which holds the Senate from simultaneously confirming large numbers of military promotions in a single voice vote. He has maintained the Senate can still confirm military leaders nominated for promotion one at a time. Democrats, however, have rejected that idea, saying it would eat up months of Senate floor time.
“What Sen. Tuberville is doing is not only wrong -- it is dangerous,” Biden said Friday. “He is risking our ability to ensure that the United States armed forces remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. … I urge the Senate to approve all the outstanding military nominees as quickly as possible.”
Kilby, the 60-year-old deputy commander U.S. Fleet Forces Command, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1986 and later commanded the USS Monterey and USS Russell. He was also commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group and later became deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities. If confirmed, he would take the job vacated by Franchetti.
Koehler, 59, has been in the Navy since 1986 and has commanded the Third Fleet, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and Carrier Strike Group 9. He’s also a decorated pilot who participated in the first Gulf War in 1990 and the Iraq War in the 2000s. He’s now director for strategy, plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, if confirmed, would succeed Paparo as commander of the Pacific Fleet.