Senate confirms Adm. Lisa Franchetti as Chief of Naval Operations, first woman in role

Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti is the first woman to serve as Chief of Naval Operations. Two top service leaders are expected to be confirmed today.
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Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti
The Senate confirmed Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti as the first woman to serve as Chief of Naval Operations on Nov. 2, 2023. (Jim Cleveland/U.S. Navy)

In the first of what is expected to be three high profile confirmation votes, the Senate has confirmed Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti as Chief of Naval Operations. In assuming the job, she becoms the first woman to be a permanent member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also secured a floor vote on the nominations for Air Force Chief of Staff and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on Thursday.

President Joe Biden first nominated Franchetti to lead the Navy in July, but her promotion has been in limbo for months because Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) has prevented the Senate from using a routine procedure to approve general and flag officer promotions en masse rather than individually.

On Thursday, the Senate voted to end debate on Franchetti’s nomination and then confirmed her by an overwhelming majority.

Franchetti had been performing the duties of Chief of Naval Operations while continuing to serve as Vice Chief of Naval Operations since August.

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She was commissioned in 1985 through the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Northwestern University in Illinois. She has commanded Destroyer Squadron 21, Carrier Strike Group 9, Carrier Strike Group 15, U.S. Forces Korea, and the Navy’s 6th Fleet. In September 2022, she became Vice of Naval Operations.

“Throughout her career, Adm. Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas,” Biden said in a July 21 statement. “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.”

The Senate also voted on Thursday to confirm Air Force Gen. David Allvin’s nomination to become Air Force Chief of Staff and Marine Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Allvin has been serving as acting Air Force Chief of Staff since September, when the Senate confirmed his predecessor Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A 1986 graduate from the Air Force Academy, Allvin previously served as commanding officer of NATO Air Training Command – Afghanistan; 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, Kabul, Afghanistan; and director for strategy, plans, and policy on the Joint Staff, according to his Air Force biography.

He is a command pilot with more than 4,600 flight hours, including 100 combat hours. He has flown more than 30 types of aircraft and his military awards include the  Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, and Bronze Star Medal.

Allvin became Air Force Vice Chief of Staff in November 2020. With his confirmation, that position will be vacant because the Senate has not yet confirmed his successor, Lt. Gen. James C. “Jim” Slife, said Air Force spokeswoman Rose Riley.

Mahoney completed The Basic School and Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Virginia in 1988, his Marine biography says. He has more than 5,000 flight hours in the A-6E Intruders, F/A-18 Hornet, F-5 Tiger II, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and he previously served on the  Joint IED Defeat Organization at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. 

His confirmation comes as Marine Corps Commandant Eric Smith is recuperating from an Oct. 29 medical emergency. In Smith’s absence, Marine Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl has temporarily assumed the duties of commandant.

Now that Mahoney has been confirmed, he will perform the duties of the commandant after he is officially promoted and sworn in on Friday by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, said Marine Corps spokesman Maj. James Stenger.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomed the confirmations of Franchetti, Allvin, and Mahoney, but he also cautioned that the promotions of more than 370 general and flag officers remain on hold because of Tuberville’s blockade.

“This unprecedented delay in confirming our military’s top leaders has hurt our military’s readiness and unnecessarily weighed down our military families, who already give up so much to support those who serve,” Austin said in a statement. “While today’s vote is a step forward, we continue to urge the Senate to take swift action on the remaining nominations so that these American heroes can lead our team in keeping our country safe.”

UPDATE: 11/02/2023; this story was extensively updated after the Senate confirmed Air Force Gen. David Allvin and Marine Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney.

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