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Sunday, December 3, 2023

History Made: Incoming Commandant Linda Fagan Confirmed as First Woman to Lead a U.S. Military Service

Senate confirmation "signals to women and girls across our nation they have a place in protecting their country at the highest level."

Adm. Linda Fagan made history this week becoming the first woman to lead any of the U.S. military services as the Senate confirmed her to lead the U.S. Coast Guard after Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz retires.

Schultz hailed “a great day for the Coast Guard” on Twitter this morning. “You will lead our incredible Coast Guard Team into the future, protecting our homeland and advancing our prosperity and National Security interests,” he said to Fagan in offering his congratulations.

Fagan, who was nominated to the post last month, was approved by unanimous consent Wednesday night along with Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, who currently serves as Atlantic Area commander and was nominated to succeed Fagan as vice commandant.

The Senate also approved Michael H. Day as Rear Admiral, Rear Adm. Peter W. Gautier to be Vice Admiral, Rear Adm. Kevin E. Lunday to Vice Admiral, and Rear Adm. Andrew J. Tiongson to be Vice Admiral.

“It is with deep pride that I congratulate Admiral Linda L. Fagan on her confirmation by the Senate as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard,” President Biden said in a statement Thursday night. “Admiral Fagan is the Coast Guard’s first woman to hold the rank of four-star admiral. Today, she again makes history not only as the first woman to lead the Coast Guard — but also as the first woman Service Chief of any U.S. military service. Admiral Fagan’s leadership, experience, and integrity are second to none, and I know she will advance the Coast Guard’s mission to ensure our nation’s maritime safety and security.”“My administration is committed to seeing more qualified women in senior leadership and command roles; making sure women can succeed and thrive throughout their military careers,” Biden added. “Today, Admiral Fagan’s confirmation as Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard signals to women and girls across our nation they have a place in protecting their country at the highest level.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he is “immensely proud” of Fagan’s “historic confirmation,” and praised her as “an extraordinary leader, trailblazer, and public servant.”

“Admiral Fagan has served in the Coast Guard for nearly four decades and will be the first woman to serve as its Commandant. She is widely admired as a role model of the utmost integrity,” Mayorkas added. “I look forward to working with her as she leads the Coast Guard in its critical mission to protect our nation’s maritime security.”

“I thank Admiral Karl Schultz for his distinguished service to our nation and our Department as the 26th Commandant of the Coast Guard. Admiral Schultz has devoted his life to public service, and he has led the Coast Guard to new heights during his extraordinary tenure as its Commandant.”

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.

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.

Her confirmation to commandant comes in time to replace Schultz at a planned June 1 change of command ceremony in Washington.

Poulin is scheduled to relieve Fagan at a change of watch ceremony planned for May 24 in Washington.

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
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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