President Biden on Friday announced that he will nominate Adm. Lisa Franchetti to be the next chief of naval operations, and he unveiled his picks for other key military posts.
If confirmed by the Senate, Franchetti would succeed Adm. Mike Gilday as the sea service’s top officer and military adviser to the commander-in-chief — and become the first woman to serve as CNO. She is currently serving as the vice chief.
“Throughout her career, Admiral Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas. She is the second woman ever to achieve the rank of four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and when confirmed, she will again make history as the first woman to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Biden said in a statement.
Franchetti would take the helm at a time when the Navy is pursuing a variety of key modernization initiatives, including bringing more unmanned systems and AI capabilities into the fleet, pursuing next-generation networking capabilities through the highly secretive Project Overmatch, and developing new weapons such as hypersonic missiles.
According to her Navy bio, Franchetti’s flag assignments have included: commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea; commander, Carrier Strike Group 9; commander, Carrier Strike Group 15; chief of staff, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5) Joint Staff; commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO; deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa; Joint Force Maritime Component Commander; deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development, N7; and director for Strategy, Plans and Policy (J-5), Joint Staff.
Biden also announced that he’s tapping Vice Adm. James Kilby, currently serving as deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, to take over Franchetti’s current role as vice chief of naval operations.
The commander-in-chief also tapped flag officers to fill two other key roles, choosing Adm. Samuel Paparo to head U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Vice Adm. Stephen “Web” Koehler to lead U.S. Pacific Fleet. Paparo is currently serving as commander of Pacific Fleet, and Koehler is director for strategy, plans and policy, J5, on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.
The Biden administration and the Pentagon are prioritizing the Indo-Pacific region amid concerns about the threat posed by China and its modernizing military.
“These two officers both have significant experience serving in the Indo-Pacific, where our military strength is critical to ensuring the security and stability of this vital region of the world,” Biden said of Paparo and Koehler.
However, it’s unclear when Franchetti, Kilby, Paparo and Koehler might be confirmed. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., has put a blanket hold on senior military officer confirmations in protest of the Defense Department’s abortion policies.
Biden referenced the political roadblock erected by Tuberville in his statement on Friday.
“Given the national security challenges we face around the world, I urge the Senate to move quickly in confirming them, along with the other military nominations currently on hold. These leadership positions are far too important to delay filling,” Biden said.