The Coast Guard May Get Its First Female Four-Star Admiral

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Woman potentially first vice commandant in Coast Guard history
Vice Adm. Linda Fagan has been nominated to become the Coast Guard's vice commandant, which could make her the highest-ranking woman in the service's history. (U.S. Coast Guard)

President Joe Biden will nominate Vice Adm. Linda Fagan to receive her fourth star and become the Coast Guard's vice commandant -- a historic step that could make her the highest-ranking woman in the service's history.

The White House announced the planned nomination Monday. If confirmed, Fagan would not only be the Coast Guard's second in command, but the first female officer to reach the rank of four-star in the service's 230-year history.

Fagan currently serves as commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, which includes more than 74 million square miles of water stretching from the Western U.S. to Asia. Defense News first reported her pending promotion.

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"Please join me in celebrating the nomination of Vice Adm. Linda Fagan for Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard," Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz tweeted Monday. "Pending Senate confirmation, Vice Adm. Fagan would serve as the Coast Guard's 32nd Vice Commandant and would be the Service's first female four-star admiral."

The Coast Guard has been working to improve diversity in the ranks. A 2019 study by the Rand Corp. found that women leave the service at higher rates than men. The study cited a "scarcity of female role models" in the service.

Fagan would replace Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray if approved for the job, putting her in the Coast Guard's No. 2 command position.

She has served on all seven continents, according to her official bio. Fagan previously commanded Sector New York, overseeing all Coast Guard missions in the greater New York metropolitan area, and served at sea aboard the Cutter Polar Star. She was also a marine inspector for more than 15 years.

Since taking office, Biden has stressed the need for having more women serving in military leadership positions. On March 8, International Women's Day, he said young women just joining the military need to see that "no door will be closed to them."

"We need women and men throughout the ranks to see and celebrate women's accomplishments and leadership in the services," he said. "We need little girls and boys both, who have grown up dreaming of serving for their country, to know this is what generals in the United States Armed Forces look like."

Biden last month nominated two female generals to lead combatant commands. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost was nominated to lead U.S. Transportation Command and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson to get her fourth star and lead U.S. Southern Command.

The New York Times reported in February that the generals' promotions were delayed under the Trump administration out of fear that they would be derailed once they reached the White House.

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

Related: After Delay Under Trump, Two Female Generals Nominated to Run Combatant Commands

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