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Coast Guard Commandant nominee would be the first woman service chief


The White House has nominated Adm. Linda Fagan to serve as the next Coast Guard Commandant, which would make her the first woman to serve as the uniformed chief of a military branch. 

First reported by USNI News, Fagan, currently the Coast Guard’s 32nd Vice Commandant, would succeed Adm. Karl Schultz, who is scheduled to retire in May. 

“Adm. Fagan is a tremendous leader, trailblazer, and respected public servant who will lead the Coast Guard across its critical missions with honor. Over Adm. Fagan’s 36 years in the Coast Guard, she has served on seven continents, was previously commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area, and is the officer with the longest service record in the marine safety field,” read a statement from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday. “Within the Coast Guard and across the Department of Homeland Security, Adm. 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.”

While women have served as service branch secretaries — Christine Wormuth is the current Secretary of the Army — Fagan would be the first servicewoman to serve as the leader of a military branch. 

A 1985 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Fagan was promoted to vice commandant in 2021. Fagan has also served as the commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area and the Coast Guard Defense Force West. Other assignments have seen her stationed in all seven continents, from Antarctica to Geneva, Tokyo and Africa, as well as commander of the Coast Guard’s New York Sector and the service’s First District, based out of Boston.

Fagan has also served in joint assignments as the Deputy Director of Operations for Headquarters, United States Northern Command, and at sea aboard the Polar Star, currently the only heavy icebreaker in the Coast Guard’s inventory. These days the ship makes yearly runs to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, clearing a path through ice as much as 21 feet thick. 

As the branch’s longest-serving maritime safety officer, responsible for investigating maritime accidents, she was also the first-ever recipient of the first Gold Ancient Trident medal awarded by the Coast Guard. 

It wouldn’t be the first milestone for Fagan to achieve in the Coast Guard. When she was promoted to vice commandant in 2021, she became the first-ever four-star admiral in the branch. In an interview with “CBS This Morning” that year, she described nearly being pulled from her first sea deployment, as the ship’s executive officer was hesitant to have her aboard as the only woman in the crew. 

She also noted her commitment to helping the Coast Guard continue to recruit and retain women, including her own daughter, in its ranks. “We’ve made a lot of progress in the junior ranks, we need to keep making progress,” she said.

With the current commandant set to retire next month, and Congress scheduled for a two-week recess beginning this Friday, Fagan’s nomination process would potentially leave the service with a brief gap in leadership. Her nomination follows a letter sent by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) urging the White House to name a nominee. 

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