Coast Guard admiral nominated to be first woman to lead a U.S. military branch

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Adm. Linda Fagan, the vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, in an official portrait. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)

Nearly a year after breaking barriers as the first woman to become a four-star admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, Adm. Linda Fagan is poised to make history again. President Joe Biden has nominated her to become commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Fagan would become the first woman to serve as Coast Guard commandant and the first woman to lead any of the U.S. armed forces.

Fagan is the current vice commandant — the Coast Guard's No. 2. She would succeed the current commandant, Adm. Karl Schultz, at a change of command ceremony on June 1, 2022, in Washington, D.C. In a statement, Schultz said he applauds Fagan's nomination. 

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"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, adding that she "will lead our incredible Coast Guard Team into the future, protecting our Homeland and advancing our prosperity and National Security interests."

Schultz will retire after the change of command.

Fagan, 58, is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. Over the course of her nearly 37-year career, Fagan has served on all seven continents. From 2010 to 2012, she served as captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey and commander of Sector New York, based on Staten Island, according to her official biography.

One of six armed services of the United States, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense. It has about 44,500 active duty personnel, another 7,000 reservists, and thousands more civilian and auxiliary members. 

In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called Fagan a "trailblazer" and an "exceptional choice."

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