Adm. Linda Fagan Could Become the First Uniformed Woman to Lead a Military Branch

Photo Credit: United States Coast Guard

President Joe Biden has officially nominated Adm. Linda Fagan to be the next commandant of the US Coast Guard. If approved, she would become the first uniformed woman to lead a service branch of the US military.

Linda Fagan being promoted to the rank of admiral
Then-Vice Adm. Linda Fagan is promoted to the rank of admiral during a ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters, June 18, 2021. (Photo Credit: Lt.j.g. Pamela Manns / U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters / DVIDS / Public Domain)

Word of the nomination was first shared by USNI News, and follows a letter from Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), urging President Biden to nominate a potential replacement for Adm. Karl Schultz sooner rather than later. Schultz is set to retire as commandant of the Coast Guard in May 2022.

“Ensuring continuity of leadership is of the utmost importance to our national and economic security,” the pair wrote. “The Coast Guard is at the forefront of a number of strategic priorities for the United States, from the growing importance of security in the Arctic, to drug interdiction, environmental protection, and leading emergency response on the frontlines of the climate crisis.”

Military portrait of Karl Schultz
Adm. Karl Schultz, current commandant of the US Coast Guard. (Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Fagan has served as vice commandant of the Coast Guard since June 2021, at which time she was also made the first female four-star admiral in the service’s history. A member of the Coast Guard for 36 years, she has held a number of positions, including as deputy commandant for operations, policy and capability; leader of Coast Guard Pacific Area & Defense Forces West; and 15 years as a marine inspector.

She also previously served aboard the USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10), and was awarded the service’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident.

Linda Fagan being given the Ancient Golden Trident
Then-Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft presents then-Rear Admiral Linda Fagan with a gold trident, as part of the Ancient Trident Ceremony held at the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, March 23, 2017. (Photo Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Frank Iannazzo-Simmons / U.S. Coast Guard District 1 PADET New York / DVIDS / Public Domain)

Speaking about the nomination, Adm. Schultz said, “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.”

Alejandro Mayorkas, security director of the Department of Homeland Security, also released a statement, saying:

“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.

“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.”

Military portrait of Steven Poulin
Vice Adm. Steven Poulin. (Photo Credit: United States Coast Guard)

President Biden has also nominated Vice Adm. Steven Poulin to serve as the Coast Guard’s vice commandant. He is the current commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area and is “responsible for all Coast Guard missions from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf.” Prior to holding this position, he was the service’s Chief Counsel and the Judge Advocate General.

Both nominations are under consideration by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.