WASHINGTON – A Navy admiral with extensive experience in the Indo-Pacific has been recommended to be the service's next top leader, officials said Monday.
Adm. Samuel Paparo, current commander of the Navy's Pacific Fleet, was recommended by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and is on tap to be nominated as the next chief of naval operations, although President Joe Biden has not yet formally signed off on it, the officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no public announcement has been made.
The selection of Paparo comes as a bit of a surprise, since he had long been expected to move up to take over U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Adm. Lisa Franchetti, the current vice chief of naval operations, had been widely mentioned as a leading candidate for the top Navy job.
If Franchetti were selected she would have become the first woman to be a military service chief and the first woman to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Women have served as military service secretaries as political appointees, but never as their top uniformed officer. This was seen as a chance for a women to break another all-male precedent.
Biden is expected to approve the recommendation, but all nominations for senior military jobs are currently stalled because one U.S. senator disagrees with Austin's decision to have the Defense Department pay for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get an abortion or other reproductive care. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has brought virtually all key senior military promotions to a halt due to his opposition to that policy.
Paparo is a naval aviator and a TOPGUN graduate with more than 6,000 flight hours in Navy fighter jets and 1,100 landings on aircraft carriers. A Pennsylvania native, he graduated from Villanova University and was commissioned into the Navy in 1987.
Prior to his Pacific tour, he was commander of naval forces in the Middle East, based in Bahrain, and also previously served as director of operations at U.S. Central Command in Florida.
Paparo's selection was first reported by NBC News.