President Joe Biden, in what is being described as a ‘ shock move’, has put forward the nomination of Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the new Chief of the U.S. Navy. She would be the first female to lead the U.S. military branch.
This move came as a surprise to many in the Pentagon, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had previously hinted at Adm. Samuel Paparo as a likely choice. Adm. Paparo is known for his significant expertise in navigating the challenges posed by China’s increasing influence as he currently oversees the Navy’s operations in the Pacific.
Franchetti is a Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps graduate. She is the first woman to serve as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea and one of fewer than 40 female admirals in the U.S. Navy. Franchetti is presently serving as the Navy’s vice chief of operations
If confirmed, Adm. Franchetti would join the esteemed Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Biden highlighted her vast experience in policy and operational areas, throughout a distinguished 38-year career, including her service as the second woman in U.S. history to become a four-star admiral.
Gender diversity in the U.S. military leadership continues to be pursued as a priority under President Biden, who last year appointed Adm. Linda Fagan as the first female commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard, although it is worth noting that the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security, unlike the Navy, which falls under the Department of Defense.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his pride in the nomination of Adm. Franchetti, believing she will continue to inspire in her potential new role. He expects the nominees, once confirmed, will maintain the U.S. Navy and the joint force in the Indo-Pacific as the world’s finest military power, committed to protecting international freedoms and upholding the rules-based international order.
In addition to nominating Adm. Franchetti, President Biden also announced the promotion of Adm. Paparo to oversee all U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Vice Admiral Stephen “Web” Koehler is set to take over Adm. Paparo’s previous role as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, marking a substantial reshuffle in the Navy’s high command.
The expertise of Adm. Paparo, particularly regarding China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has been recognized across both military units on the front line and the intelligence community, earning him respect as a strategic thinker and strong leader.
However, these military nominations have been impeded by Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) objection to a Defense Department policy that reimburses service members who travel to obtain abortion services. This has resulted in individual consideration for each nominee, causing significant delays.
President Biden voiced his concern over the potential negative impact on national security and the effectiveness of the military, questioning the future of defense and leadership. He condemned Senator Tuberville’s actions, stating, “What Senator Tuberville is doing is not only wrong—it is dangerous.”
Biden accused him of jeopardizing the United States Armed Forces’ status as the world’s most formidable military force.