Biden makes Admiral Linda Fagan the first woman to head a military branch as Coast Guard commandant and says challenges include fighting climate change and ‘over-fishing’
- President Joe Biden proclaimed ‘it’s about time’ as he participated Wednesday in the U.S. Coast Guard’s change of command ceremony
- There he witnessed the promotion of Adm. Linda Fagan as new Commandant of the branch – making her the armed forces’ first female service chief
- ‘The secretary of defense, when he sent me the name, I said, ‘What in the hell took you so long?” Biden said. ‘Congratulations,’ he offered Fagan
President Joe Biden proclaimed ‘it’s about time’ as he participated Wednesday in the U.S. Coast Guard’s change of command ceremony promoting Adm. Linda Fagan as new Commandant of the branch – making her the armed forces’ first female service chief.
‘Today we witness a tradition longstanding in the United States Coast Guard – change of command, as a new admiral assumes leadership of our nation’s oldest continuous sea-going service,’ Biden said. ‘It’s both a connection to our earliest days as a nation, and a new milestone in our history.
Using his trademark line the president added that ‘this is a big deal.’
‘The secretary of defense, when he sent me the name, I said, ‘What in the hell took you so long?” Biden said. ‘Congratulations,’ he offered Fagan.
In a brief address, Biden didn’t mention Russia’s war with Ukraine but said ‘the choices the world makes today will shape the direction of the world throughout the 21st century.’
The president said his administration is ‘going to be calling on the Coast Guard more frequently’ to combat the threats of climate change, given that Wednesday marked the first day of hurricane season that is anticipated to be ‘the seventh straight year of above-average hurricane activity in the Atlantic.’
Biden also called the Coast Guard an ‘essential element’ of his administration´s Indo-Pacific strategy, and said he planned to engage to ‘take on illegally and unreported and unregulated fishing,’ hinting at China being responsible.
President Joe Biden (right) shakes the hand of Admiral Linda Fagan (left) at her change of command ceremony in Washington on Wednesday
Admiral Linda Fagan arrives for the US Coast Guard change of command ceremony at USCG Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday
Admiral Linda Fagan (left), President Joe Biden (center) and Admiral Karl Schultz (right) participate in the US Coast Guard change of command ceremony at USCG Headquarters on Wednesday
But he dedicated most of his speech to Fagan being a first.
‘The trailblazing career of Admiral Fagan shows young people entering the services, we mean what we say: There are no doors – no doors – closed to women,’ Biden told around 2,000 cheering guests at Coast Guard headquarters.
Those attending included service chiefs from other military branches and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
The president added, ‘This is what an admiral and service chief in the United States armed forces looks like’ and thanked Fagan for ‘all that you’ve done throughout your career to open the doors of opportunity just a little bit wider’ allowing ‘those following behind you a way through.’
‘Now we need to keep working to make sure Admiral Fagan may be the first but not the only,’ Biden said. ‘We need to see more women at the highest levels of command in the Coast Guard and across every service.’
Fagan replaces Adm. Karl Schultz.
Biden nominated Fagan to the post in April.
‘Her leadership and integrity are second to none,’ he tweeted at the time.
Her nomination passed through the Senate in mid-May with no opposition, receiving accolades from members of both parties.
The Military Times reported that her service includes leadership roles on all seven continents.