Since the days of John Paul Jones and the American Revolution, the top job in the US Navy has gone to a man, but that will change if President Biden’s pick to become the service’s top uniformed leader is confirmed.
The White House announced Friday that President Biden intends to nominate Admiral Lisa Franchetti to become the Navy’s highest-ranking officer following the retirement of Admiral Michael M. Gilday this summer.
Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, said he was proud that Admiral Franchetti had been selected to be the first woman to lead the Navy and serve as a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“She will continue to inspire all of us,” Austin said in a statement.
Currently, Navy Deputy Chief Admiral Franchetti will serve in an interim role as the Navy’s top officer, pending Senate confirmation, a process that Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, has blocked for hundreds of admirals and generals in an attempt to force the Pentagon to drop a policy offering time off and travel reimbursement to service members who need to leave state for abortions.
In a statement announcing her nomination, the White House cited Admiral Franchetti’s “extensive operational and political experience” as one of the reasons Biden chose her.
According to her official biography, Admiral Franchetti received her commission in 1985 through the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Northwestern University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her career assignments trace the history of how women in the Navy have fought for the same combat jobs that men have always had.
At the time she was commissioned, the women who joined the fleet as surface warfare officers were generally limited to serving on so-called auxiliary ships that carried cargo, fuel, ammunition, or repaired warships and submarines.
His first tour was aboard the USS Shenandoah, an auxiliary ship designated for what were considered the non-combat tasks of servicing destroyers, a type of warship that has traditionally done some of the toughest fighting at sea, including locating and attacking submarines and firing missiles and large-caliber guns at land targets.
By the time the Shenandoah was decommissioned in 1996, Congress had stopped opposing Navy women serving on combat ships and surface combat aircraft.
Admiral Franchetti went on to serve on various destroyers, eventually commanding the USS Ross and later a squadron.
As an admiral, he commanded two different carrier strike groups, a position considered the pinnacle of non-nuclear energy projection at sea. He continued to command the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
Prior to her promotion to four stars and assuming the Navy’s No. 2 position in September, Admiral Franchetti served as director of strategy, plans and policy at the Joint Chiefs of Staff when its leaders began seeking more diversity.
Admiral Franchetti would be the second woman to lead a branch of the military. Admiral Linda L. Fagan became the first to do so when she was sworn in as Commandant of the Coast Guard on June 1, 2022.
Both the White House and the Pentagon noted that Admiral Franchetti would be the first female officer to serve as a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As commander of the Coast Guard, Admiral Fagan reports to the secretary of homeland security and is not considered an official member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, as the leader of a branch of the military, he normally participates in all the meetings with the other service chiefs in the Pentagon.