President Joe Biden on Friday announced Adm. Lisa Franchetti as his pick to head the Navy — a historic decision that, upon her confirmation, would make her the first woman to lead the service and become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Commending her 38 years of service as a commissioned officer, Biden said in a statement that Franchetti, currently the vice chief of Naval Operations, had “demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas.” She is only the second woman to rise to the rank of four-star admiral in the Navy, Biden noted.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Franchetti has served in key positions, including as the Comander of the U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Korea, as well as chief of staff for strategy, plans and policy with the J-5 Joint Staff — which makes recommendations to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
She received her commission in 1985 at the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Program at Northwestern University, where she completed a bachelor’s degree in journalism. In a 2015 profile published in her alma mater’s magazine, Franchetti said she had wanted to become a journalist in the Middle East but a chance encounter with Navy officers-in-training put her on the path to a military career. Her colleagues described her as a “no-nonsense person” who was intelligent and calm.
She has a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and has attended the chiefs War College.
Biden’s pick of Franchetti for the top Navy job overrules Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recommendation of Adm. Samuel Paparo, as reported by NBC News last month. Paparo, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was nominated by Biden on Friday to lead the Indo-Pacific Command.
But Franchetti’s confirmation is likely to run into the logjam on military appointments that is being single-handedly maintained by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) over Defense Department abortion policy. Tuberville has stalled the confirmation of more than 250 military officials over a post-Roe v. Wade policy that allows military personnel and their families to recoup travel expenses while seeking an abortion if they are stationed in states that have restrictions on the procedure.
In his Friday statement announcing the nominations, Biden denounced Tuberville’s tactics, saying what he is doing is “not only wrong — it is dangerous.”
Franchetti’s nomination is another potentially history-making choice by the Biden administration. If Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr is confirmed as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, it would be the first time the two top jobs at the Pentagon would be held by Black men — Austin, another Biden nominee, was confirmed as the Pentagon chief in 2021.
Franchetti has previously spoken of the challenges faced by women in the Navy, who only in 1994 were assigned to serve on combatant ships.
In an interview, she said that she was disappointed when she did not get selected to serve on a ship during her initial years in the Navy — a move she thought would end her career. But with help from a superior who assigned her to a billet, she was able to overcome that obstacle.
“I think really just having faith in what I wanted to do, being motivated, not giving up, that was the key to that success,” Franchetti said.