Adm. Linda Fagan became the first woman to lead a branch of the U.S. military when she was sworn in as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard during a ceremony in Washington on Wednesday.
“It’s about time,” said President Joe Biden in remarks during the change of command event.
“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.
Biden, who nominated Fagan to the post in April, called it “a new milestone in our history” and “a big deal.”
“There’s no one more qualified to lead the proud men and women of the Coast Guard, and she will also be the first woman to serve as Commandant of the Coast Guard, the first woman to lead any branch of the United States Armed Forces — and it’s about time,” Biden said at the ceremony, where Fagan relieved Adm. Karl Schultz, who is retiring.
“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.”
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 guard against overfishing by Chinese interests.
Biden, in his remarks, noted that Fagan had been a pioneer earlier in her career, too, serving as one of few women — or the only woman — in various stations throughout her time in the service, and calling Wednesday’s ceremony “a historic first, in that effort.”
“I want to thank you, Admiral Fagan, for taking the helm during this critical moment,” he added. “And for all that you’ve done throughout your career, it opened the doors of opportunities just a little bit wider to allowing those following behind you a way through.”