History Makers: Vice Admiral Michelle Howard

Slow progress is always good progress, as long as Africans Americans continue to strive up the greatness ladder that’s all that matters because eventually that slow progress turns into GREAT progress. Without further hesitation, according to Diversity Inc., it has been confirmed that President Barack Obama has nominated Vice Admiral Michelle Howard to serve as the Navy’s new Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), which the branch’s second-highest post. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first woman and African American to serve as the Navy’s VCNO. The position also includes a promotion in rank that would make Howard the first Black woman four-star admiral in Navy history.

Howard stays making history in the Navy. She graduated from the Academy in 1982, and later became the first Black woman to command a naval ship when she took command of the USS Rushmore in 1999. She has also served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and took part in tsunami relief in Indonesia before taking command of Expeditionary Strike Group Two in April of 2009.

In addition, Howard also led Task Force 151 off the coast of Somalia. Shortly after assuming that role, she took charge of the Navy’s rescue mission after pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama (an American cargo ship), and took its captain, Richard Phillips, hostage. Navy SEALs killed all but one of the pirates after several days of standoff at sea.

Howard’s academic record consists of a masters degree in Military Arts and Sciences from the Army’s Command and General Staff College (1998), and she currently serves as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Plan and Strategy. If Howard’s new ranking is confirmed she will replace Admiral Mark E. Ferguson, who has been nominated to lead the Navy’s forces in Europe and Africa, as well as the Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy. The VNCO reports directly to Chief Naval Officer Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

The first woman four-star officer in the U.S. military was not appointed until 2008, when Army General Ann E. Dunwoody took over as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. She retired in 2012. However, woman have continued to make strides in senior defense positions under the Obama administration.

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