With the retirement of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, the Defense Department has reached a historic milestone: for the first time in American history, three of the eight seats on the Pentagon’s illustrious board of most senior military personnel are being filled by temporary officers.
Vice Chief of Naval Operations candidate Adm. Lisa Franchetti has taken over in an acting capacity while waiting for confirmation. This is because Republican Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has blocked military promotions for the last eight months over his opposition to a new Pentagon policy that would pay service personnel to go out of state for abortion and other reproductive procedures.
As a result of the impasse, almost 300 nominations for senior officers have been put on hold. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense, spoke during the event and called it a “sad milestone.”
The head of the Pentagon has contacted Tuberville many times to discuss the hold but has had little success. The following Navy leader has to be forthright and assertive when communicating with Congress and the public about the Navy’s current status.
Franchetti may lawfully serve as interim head of the police for as long as is required, but until she is confirmed in the position, she cannot offer any new formal planning direction to the force. Franchetti has been the deputy head of the Navy since September 2022, and in that time, he has dealt with the Navy’s grave recruitment and retention difficulties and the development of plans for new classes of crewed and uncrewed ships.
Given the Navy’s annual construction budget and the high cost and lengthy delays involved in constructing new ships, the problems with fleet size precede Gilday and are unlikely to be remedied under Franchetti. Building “amphibs” has been put on “strategic hold” by the Navy while the Pentagon evaluates whether or not they are worth the money.
With Franchetti’s addition, the Senate can not confirm nominees unless Tuberville releases his hold on more than 300 officials. Top nominations are piling up as the gridlock seems to be no end.