Navy’s first 4-star female ends career as Foggo takes helm in Naples
NAPLES, Italy — Adm. Michelle Howard, the first female four-star admiral, relinquished command of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa on Friday and soon will end her long, storied career.
Adm. James Foggo III took the reins from Howard during a change-of-command ceremony Friday. Foggo, who was promoted to full admiral before the ceremony, also took command of Allied Joint Force Command Naples.
This is Foggo’s third time in Naples. He previously commanded U.S. 6th Fleet for almost two years until last year. In an earlier tour, he commanded Submarine Group 8.
Foggo steps into his new leadership role as the Mediterranean region becomes a hotspot in the fight against the Islamic State, as terrorist groups in northern Africa pose a greater threat and as Russia increases its submarine patrols in NATO waters.
“I feel I am ready and am looking forward to the challenge,” Foggo said.
Foggo said allied forces must contend with three challenges: Russia, radicals and relevance.
Critics have questioned whether NATO can remain relevant by shifting from its traditional Cold War paradigm and protecting Europe against present-day threats like terrorism.
Foggo said he will build on efforts that materialized under Howard, such as NATO’s southern data-sharing hub that opened in Naples last month and the missile-defense stations in Romania and Poland.
Howard plans to retire by January to Colorado, ending a 35-year career marked by many firsts.
In addition to being the first female four-star admiral, she was also the first black woman to achieve two-star admiral rank and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy promoted to flag officer.
In 1999, Howard was the first African-American woman to command a U.S. naval warship when she took the helm of the USS Rushmore, a dock landing vessel.
Howard said she was honored to have done her part to help provide stability to the Continent.
“This theater has undergone drastic changes in recent years,” Howard said. “What was once considered a benign operating area is now full of complex challenges … that require our forces to take an innovative approach.”