US President Biden has chosen a female admiral to lead the US Navy – the first time a woman has been nominated to head the Pentagon’s military service branch.
Lisa Franchetti is the former commander of the US 6th Fleet and US Navy in South Korea, and has served as an aircraft carrier strike commander.
Mr Biden’s nomination still needs to be confirmed by the US Senate.
A lawmaker is currently blocking the Senate from confirming military leaders who oppose the military’s abortion policy.
If confirmed as chief of naval operations, she will be the first woman to become a member of the elite group of senior military officers who make up the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A 38-year veteran, she is the second woman to attain the rank of four-star admiral.
In a statement, Mr Biden praised what he called his “extensive expertise in both operational and policy” and said he would “make history again” once confirmed for the role.
According to reports in the US media, Adm Franchetti was not the first choice of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who nominated TOPGUN graduate Samuel Paparo as the next Navy chief.
Mr Biden promoted Adm. Paparo, nominating him as commander of US military forces in the Pacific.
The U.S. Coast Guard is currently commanded by a woman — Admiral Linda Fagan — but that branch of the military falls under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense.
Adm Franchetti is set to take over in the fall, when the current chief’s four-year term ends. But since he is unlikely to be confirmed soon by a divided Senate, he will begin work in an acting capacity.
Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has blocked the Senate from confirming more than 270 military promotions through a Pentagon policy that provides travel expenses for service members who need to travel out of state to obtain an abortion.
In his statement, Mr Biden criticized the senator, saying “what Senator Tuberville is doing is not only wrong – it’s dangerous”.
He added: “He is risking our ability to ensure that America’s armed forces remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. His Republican colleagues in the Senate know that.”