Biden chooses a female admiral to lead the navy. She would be the 1st woman to be head of military service

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has chosen Admiral Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy, a senior administration official said Friday. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to serve as U.S. military service chief.

Biden’s decision to bring in Franchetti, an admiral with extensive command and leadership experience, goes against his Pentagon chief’s recommendation, but he selects an officer whom insiders had considered the first choice for the job. Franchetti, the current vice chief of Navy operations, would become the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recommended that Biden select Admiral Samuel Paparo, the navy’s current commander of the Pacific Fleet, several U.S. officials said last month. But instead, the administration official said Biden was appointing Paparo to head the US Indo-Pacific Command. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the appointment has not been made public.

The administration official said Biden chose Franchetti based on the vast breadth of his experience at sea and ashore, including a number of high-level political and administrative jobs that give him in-depth knowledge of departmental budgeting and management.

At the same time, the official acknowledged that Biden understands the historic nature of the nomination and believes Franchetti will be an inspiration to sailors, men and women.

Franchetti’s nomination will join the list of hundreds of military moves that are being held up by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. He is blocking the confirmation of military officers to protest a Department of Defense policy that pays for travel when a service member needs to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care.

She is expected to take over as acting chief from next month when Admiral Michael Gilday, the current top naval officer, retires as planned.

Several women have served as military service secretaries as political figures, but never as their senior uniformed officer. A woman, Adm. Linda L. Fagan, is currently the Coast Guard Commanding Officer. She is not, however, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The president, the official said, believes Franchetti is the right person for the job and that moving Paparo to head Pacific Command also places the right person in the position.

The official declined to comment on Austin’s recommendation. But the news last month that the defense chief had recommended Papara surprised many at the Pentagon, as Franchetti was long believed to be in the running for the Navy’s top job.

A surface warfare officer, she commanded at all levels, commanding the US 6th Fleet and US Naval Forces Korea. She was the second woman to be promoted to four-star admiral, and she has served in several deployments, including as commanding officer of a naval destroyer and twice as commander of the aircraft carrier strike group.

Paparo, who, if confirmed, would replace Adm. John Aquilino, is a Naval Aviator and TOPGUN graduate with over 6,000 flight hours in Navy combat aircraft and 1,100 landings on aircraft carriers. A Pennsylvania native, he graduated from Villanova University and was commissioned into the Navy in 1987.

Prior to his Pacific tour, he was commander of naval forces in the Middle East, based in Bahrain, and also served as director of operations at US Central Command in Florida.

The administration official said Biden would also appoint Vice Admiral James Kilby as vice chief of the navy and hire Vice Admiral Stephen Koehler to lead the Pacific Fleet.

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