Admiral Lisa Franchetti Will Make History as the First Woman to Serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Senate on Thursday confirmed three more senior military officers in its latest move to bypass an expansive blockade on President Biden’s nominees imposed by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in a bid to gain leverage in a fight over the Pentagon’s travel policy for troops seeking abortions.
Approved by lopsided margins were Adm. Lisa Franchetti, who will become the first woman to lead the Navy and join the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. David W. Allvin, nominated to lead the Air Force; and Lt. Gen. Christopher J. Mahoney, who will be promoted to four-star general, become the Marine Corps’s No. 2 officer and step in as the caretaker commandant in the absence of Gen. Eric Smith, who suffered apparent cardiac arrest on Sunday. Smith, 58, was in stable condition on Wednesday evening with an unclear long-term prognosis.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, the Pentagon’s No. 2 political appointee, appeared to link the hold on Thursday directly to Smith’s condition.
“We’ve said many times in the last six months that the hold is unnecessary, unprecedented and unsafe, and that it’s bad for our military and bad for our military families, and it’s bad for our country,” she said. “We have seen tragic effects of that stress, but we’ve also seen stress at the individual human level. And I think that’s been well-communicated on Capitol Hill.”
Each of the officers confirmed on Thursday is considered highly qualified.
Franchetti, 59, has served as the vice chief of naval operations since September 2022, and has commanded naval forces all over the world as a surface warfare officer. She will take over a service that is increasingly focused on operations in the Pacific, as the Pentagon adjusts to a rising military competition with China. The Senate confirmed her by a vote of 95-1 on Thursday.
Allvin, 60, served as a cargo pilot and led increasingly large units before becoming vice chief of staff in the Air Force in November 2020. His confirmation passed 95-1.
Mahoney, 58, has served as the Marine Corps deputy commandant for programs and resources since August 2021, overseeing the service’s budget. A fighter pilot, he has extensive service in the Pacific and graduated from the Naval Fighter Weapons School, commonly known as Top Gun. Mahoney was confirmed with an 86-0 vote.
The confirmation votes came amid mounting frustration among fellow Republicans at Tuberville’s tactics. Over nearly five hours on the Senate floor on Wednesday night, Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and other GOP colleagues denounced the gambit and said Tuberville had other options to protest policy decisions. They echoed concerns of the White House and Senate Democrats that Tuberville is undercutting U.S. military readiness at a time when wars are raging in the Middle East and Ukraine.