Lisa Franchetti Becomes First Woman to Lead Military Service
We finally have a Chief of Naval Operations but the crisis in the top ranks continues.
Stars and Stripes (“Senate confirms 1st female leader of Navy, new Air Force top general and Marine Corps 2nd-in-command“):
The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm the first woman to lead the Navy and serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a new top general for the Air Force and an assistant Marine Corps commandant as anger intensified over a Republican senator’s monthslong hold on military promotions.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti was approved as chief of naval operations in a 95-1 vote after serving in the position for months on an acting basis while also performing the duties of her former role as vice chief. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., a former Army captain, was the only senator to oppose Franchetti’s promotion.
“At every step of her career, Admiral Franchetti has been a trailblazer and a team builder who focuses on the mission, leads by example and gets the job done,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “She is an inspiration to many and someone who will always put the security of our nation, and all who defend it, first.”
Franchetti is not the first woman service chief, an honor that goes to Admiral Linda Fagan, who became Commandant of the Coast Guard last May. While the Coast Guard is one of the armed services, though, it is not a military service and its leader is not one of the Joint Chiefs.
This milestone is overshadowed by the broader context:
Her historic appointment marked the second time since February that the Senate has individually confirmed senior military nominees affected by a nine-month hold on appointments and promotions by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Gen. David Allvin was approved as Air Force chief of staff in a 95-1 vote, with Marshall again voting no. Allvin also had been serving a dual role of acting chief of staff of the service as well as vice chief due to the logjam created by Tuberville’s hold. Allvin’s predecessor, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, was promoted to chairman of the Joint Chiefs in September.
Senators unanimously voted, 86-0, to approve Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney for promotion to four-star general and appointment as Marine Corps assistant commandant. He was nominated for the service’s second-highest job in July.
The promotion of the three senior officers took on new urgency this week after Gen. Eric Smith, the Marine Corps commandant, reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday. Tuberville’s hold, an act of protest against the Pentagon’s abortion access policy, had left the service’s second-in-command position empty.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Smith’s hospitalization coupled with Israel’s war in Gaza has created a crisis. He long resisted holding individual votes on nominees, which are normally approved in large batches, but made an exception in September to fill three seats on the Joint Chiefs.
He again moved to break with standard procedure this week after Tuberville and other Republicans tried to force floor votes on Mahoney, Franchetti and Allvin.
“Patience is wearing thin on both sides of the aisle over the senator’s actions,” Schumer said Thursday.
Frustration with Tuberville’s hold publicly spilled into the Republican ranks on Wednesday night as several Republican senators attempted to bring forward the nominations of 61 of the nearly 400 impacted officers. Each request was shot down by Tuberville, though he has repeatedly said he would not stand in the way of individual votes on nominees.
Smith had been performing the jobs of Assistant Commandant and Commandant for months before his heart attack. Whether the stress of doing so was a contributing factor is likely unknowable but he’s an extremely fit 58-year-old.
Franchetti, too, has been performing the top two jobs in her service and presumably will continue to do so, as there is no Senate-confirmed Vice. All that has changed is that she now has the full authority of the job she has been doing.