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Adm. Linda Fagan Nominated to Be First Woman to Lead U.S. Coast Guard

Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, who currently serves as Atlantic Area commander, has been nominated to succeed Fagan as vice commandant.

President Biden today nominated Vice Commandant Adm. Linda Fagan to be the first woman to serve as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Fagan was installed in June as the first woman to serve as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the first woman four-star admiral in the history of the service. She had been serving as Pacific Area commander at the time. Her 36-year Coast Guard career spans every continent and includes having served as executive assistant to the commandant and vice commandant and division chief of the Foreign and Offshore Compliance Office.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Biden “made an exceptional choice” in choosing Fagan — “a tremendous leader, trailblazer, and respected public servant who will lead the Coast Guard across its critical missions with honor.”

“Within the Coast Guard and across the Department of Homeland Security, Admiral Fagan is admired as a role model of the utmost integrity, and her historic nomination is sure to inspire the next generation of women who are considering careers in military service,” Mayorkas added.

It took two months from Fagan’s nomination for the No. 2 role at USCG to her confirmation by the Senate. USCG is hoping that her confirmation will come in time to replace retiring Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz at a planned June 1 change of command ceremony in Washington.

“Admiral Fagan is an exceptional senior Coast Guard officer and nominee, possessing the keen intellect, the depth of operational experience, and the well-honed leadership and managerial acumen to serve with distinction as our Service’s 27th Commandant,” Schultz said in a statement today.

Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, who currently serves as Atlantic Area commander, has been nominated to succeed Fagan as vice commandant. If confirmed, Poulin will relieve Fagan at a change of watch ceremony planned for May 24 in Washington. “His distinguished career makes him especially well-suited for this position,” Mayorkas said.

Fagan is a 1985 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and is the Coast Guard’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident, the officer with the longest service record in marine safety.

Biden noted Fagan’s nomination in his May 19 commencement remarks at the Coast Guard Academy, stressing that “we need to see more women at the highest levels of command.”

“We have to make sure that women have the chance to succeed and thrive throughout their careers,” he said. “There’s a saying that we use in a different context — a Chinese saying that says, ‘Women hold up half the world.’ It’s an absolutely stupid position not to make sure they represent at least half of what we do.”

Schultz began his four-year term on June, 1, 2018, and has made actions to advance readiness and ensure a diverse force with higher retention a linchpin of his tenure.

“Today more women are remaining in our service longer,” Schultz said at his final State of the Coast Guard address in February. “Today we have 375 more women in the service at the critically important E6/E7 and O-4 mid-grade leadership ranks than we had five years ago in 2017: that’s a 28 percent increase of women at these mid-career pay grades, and a trend that outpaces their male counterparts. The ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ aphorism applies here as today we’re retaining 60 percent of our active-duty workforce at the 15-year time-in-service benchmark — that’s impressive!”

“The state of the Coast Guard is indeed strong at a time when the demands for our services and capabilities have never been higher, and the challenges on you and your families uniquely difficult,” Schultz said. “You are the most talented, tenacious, and inclusive team of shipmates and Coast Guard families that I’ve been blessed to serve with over the past four decades.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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