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Adm. Robert P. Burke was nominated on Thursday, May 7, 2020, to serve as the next commander of the Naples, Italy-based U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.
Adm. Robert P. Burke was nominated on Thursday, May 7, 2020, to serve as the next commander of the Naples, Italy-based U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. (U.S. Navy)

STUTTGART, Germany — Adm. Robert P. Burke has been nominated to serve as the next commander of the Naples, Italy-based U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa in a series of Navy leadership changes announced by the Pentagon.

A career submariner, Burke will replace Adm. James Foggo, who has led NAVEUR and NATO’s Allied Joint Forces Command for nearly three years.

Neither a date for a change of command nor Foggo’s next move were announced, but USNI News reported Foggo was expected to retire.

Burke’s expected move to Naples comes at a time when senior military officials have repeatedly expressed concerns about more aggressive Russian activity, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic.

Having served since 2019 as vice chief of naval operations, Burke will arrive at his new headquarters with insight into whether leadership is on board with U.S. European Command’s call for more warships to be homeported in Rota, Spain, to counter the growing Russian presence.

A native of Portage, Mich., Burke previously held operational assignments aboard attack and ballistic missile submarines and commanded the submarine USS Hampton in Norfolk, Va. He was also commodore of Submarine Development Squadron 12 in Groton, Conn.

Tapped to replace Burke in Washington was Vice Adm. William K. Lescher, who was nominated for the rank of admiral. Lescher now serves as deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources in Washington.

Navy Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, who leads the Naples-based 6th Fleet, was nominated to serve as deputy chief of naval operations for war fighting development in Washington, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

She will be replaced by Navy Rear Adm. Eugene H. Black III, who was nominated for the rank of vice admiral. Black currently serves as director of the surface warfare division in Washington.

Rear Adm. Randy B. Crites was nominated for vice admiral and an assignment as deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources in Washington. He now serves as deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget and director of the fiscal management division in Washington.

Rear Adm. Yancy B. Lindsey was nominated for vice admiral and a new assignment as head of Navy Installations Command in Washington. Lindsey now serves as commander of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia and as commander of Maritime Air Forces in Naples.

Rear Adm. Kenneth R. Whitesell was tapped for vice admiral and assignment as commander of Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, based in San Diego. He currently serves as deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

vandiver.john@stripes.com Twitter: @john_vandiver

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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