Adm. Bill Moran Nominated to Lead the Navy

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran arrives to preside over a ceremony establishing Expeditionary Exploitation Unit ONE, EXU-1, as a stand-alone command onboard Naval Support Facility Indian Head, June 29, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo/Todd Frantom)
Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran arrives to preside over a ceremony establishing Expeditionary Exploitation Unit ONE, EXU-1, as a stand-alone command onboard Naval Support Facility Indian Head, June 29, 2018. (U.S. Navy photo/Todd Frantom)

The nominee for Navy's next top officer is an aviator who has tracked Russian submarines and led major reforms to the service's personnel command, officials announced on Thursday.

President Donald Trump has named Adm. Bill Moran to serve as the 32nd chief of naval operations. Moran, a Naval Academy grad, has served as the Navy's second-in-command as vice chief of naval operations, or VCNO, since 2016.

"I'm honored and deeply humbled by the nomination and look forward to working with Congress during the confirmation process," he said in a statement.

If confirmed, Moran will lead the Navy as it shifts toward preparing to fight skilled and sophisticated adversaries, such as China or Russia. As VCNO, Moran has pushed to improve readiness as the Navy grows its fleet and potentially faces a more complex fight.

Moran also oversaw a slew of career reforms during his time as chief of naval personnel from 2013 to 2016. The Sailor 2025 program put more emphasis on performance and leadership traits when it came to promotions, offered more flexible career paths, and revamped training the training sailors' receive at every paygrade.

"We are at a strategic crossroad where we need to think about how we will conduct business for the Sailors of the future," the policy states.

To win future fights, Moran said the service must be willing to take risks.

"To build the Navy of tomorrow, to achieve that ready, fast and capable Navy, we have to challenge ourselves to think differently: placing our mission, our future and our purpose as American sailors above all else," he said at this year's Surface Navy Association address.

Moran is familiar with the types of great power competitions the Navy is again facing. He flew the P-3 Orion, a surveillance aircraft that detects submarines, during the Cold War. He served with the Maine-based Patrol Squadron 44; Florida-based Patrol Squadron 30; and Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 2 out of Hawaii.

He also served on the carrier Forrestal and on the staff for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The admiral later went onto command Patrol and Reconnaissance Group in Virginia and served as the CNO's director of air warfare.

Moran has stressed the need for sailors and officers -- especially those more junior in rank -- to be able to trust their chains of command.

"Warfighting readiness is solely about our commanding officers and their sailors having confidence in this massive enterprise," he said earlier this year. "We're restoring trust up and, most importantly, down the chain of command."

Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the current chief of naval personnel, has been nominated to replace Moran as VCNO, USNI News reported.

Following the announcement of his Moran's nomination, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer in a statement called the admiral an "extraordinary leader" and "stalwart partner and advisor."

CNO Adm. John Richardson said he was thrilled with the president's decision to nominate Moran.

"He has been central to the Navy adopting a fighting stance in this great power competition," Richardson said in a statement. "As I turn over and go ashore, I will rest easy knowing that, pending confirmation, Adm. Moran has the watch."

Moran has a bachelor's degree in naval science and a master's from the National War College. He has the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal and other personal, unit and service awards.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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