Adm. Lisa Franchetti during her confirmation hearing in September 2023.

Adm. Lisa Franchetti during her confirmation hearing in September 2023. U.S. Navy / Chief Mass Communication Specialist Amanda R. Gray

Senate confirms first woman to lead Navy, key joint staff vacancies

However, hundreds of confirmations are still blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.

The U.S. Navy finally has a new top officer—Adm. Lisa Franchetti, the first woman to lead the service—after the Senate sidestepped a months-long hold by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville. 

The Senate voted on Thursday, 95-1, to confirm Franchetti as the chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin to be the Air Force’s chief of staff. Lt. Gen. Chris Mahoney was also confirmed, 86-0, to be the Marine Corps’ assistant commandant—and allowing him to step in for Commandant Gen. Eric Smith, who was hospitalized with a heart attack on Sunday after doing both jobs for months.

But hundreds of military promotions remain in limbo, thanks to Tuberville’s hold

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin commended the confirmations and condemned the hold. 

Franchetti, Allvin, and Mahoney are “outstanding leaders who have faithfully served their country for decades and I know they will continue to be great leaders of our force as they continue to tackle the crucial national security issues of these challenging times,” Austin said in a statement.

“But we still have more than 370 superbly qualified leaders who have seen their nominations unnecessarily stalled…This unprecedented delay in confirming our military’s top leaders has hurt our military’s readiness and unnecessarily weighed down our military families, who already give up so much to support those who serve.”

Pentagon leaders have been increasingly vocal about the hold’s effect  on military readiness. Since February, Tuberville, R-Ala., has been protesting DOD’s reproductive health care policy, which provides access to pregnancy termination services for military members even if they are stationed in a state that imposes limits on abortion.

Franchetti, for example, served for months as both the vice chief of naval operations and acting chief. In September, the admiral told senators the Navy could take years to recover from the effects of the holds. 

Allvin, a mobility pilot, previously served as the Air Force’s vice chief of staff and was the director for strategy, plans, and policy at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Mahoney was previously the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for programs and resources. His confirmation comes as Commandant Smith recovers from a heart attack this week. For several days, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, had also been performing the duties of commandant and assistant commandant. 

While addressing reporters Thursday, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks seemed to link the physiological toll Tuberville’s nomination holds were having on the military with Smith’s health: “We have seen tragic effects of that stress, but we’ve also seen stress at the individual human level.”

Audrey Decker and Ben Watson contributed to this report.