If confirmed, Franchetti will break another key barrier, by becoming the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has chosen Admiral Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy, the White House announced Friday. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to become head of US military service.
Biden’s decision to choose Franchetti, an admiral with extensive command and operating experience, goes against the Pentagon chief’s recommendation, but he is choosing an officer that insiders see as the top choice for the job. Franchetti, the current deputy chief executive officer of the Navy, will become the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has recommended Biden choose Admiral Samuel Paparo, the current commander of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, several US officials said last month. But instead, the administration official said Biden was nominating Paparo to lead the US Indo-Pacific Command.
An administration official said Biden chose Franchetti based on her broad range of experience at sea and ashore, including a number of high-level administrative and policy jobs that gave her extensive knowledge of budgeting and running the department.
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, both men and women.
Franchetti’s nomination will join a list of hundreds of military moves being proposed by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. He is blocking Confirmation of military officer to protest the Department of Defense policy to pay for travel when a service member has to be out of state for an abortion or other reproductive care.
She is expected to take the role of acting chief starting next month when Admiral Michael Gilday, the current top Navy officer, retires as planned.
Some women have served as military service secretaries as political appointees, but never as their top uniformed officers. One woman, Admiral Linda L. Fagan, is currently Commander of the Coast Guard. However, she is not a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The official said the president believes Franchetti is the right person for the job and that bringing Paparo to head of Pacific Command puts the right person in that position.
The official declined to comment on Austin’s recommendation. But news last month that the Secretary of Defense had nominated Papara stunned many at the Pentagon because it had long been believed that Franchetti was a good fit for the Navy’s top job.
As a surface warfare officer, she has commanded at all levels, commanding the U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Korea. She is the second woman ever to be promoted to the rank of four-star admiral, and she has performed numerous duties, including as commander of a naval destroyer and two terms as commander of an aircraft carrier strike group.
Paparo, who if confirmed to replace Admiral John Aquilino, is a Navy aviator and TOPGUN graduate with over 6,000 hours of Navy fighter flight time and 1,100 aircraft carrier landings. A native of Pennsylvania, he graduated from Villanova University and was drafted 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 previously served as chief of operations at US Central Command in Florida.
The administration official said Biden will also nominate Vice Admiral James Kilby as Deputy Commander of the Navy and appoint Vice Admiral Stephen Koehler to head the Pacific Fleet.