Senate lawmakers confirmed Vice Adm. Michael Gilday as the next chief of naval operations in a unanimous vote on Thursday, filling another Pentagon leadership vacancy before their extended summer legislative recess.
Gilday, the current director of the joint staff, was also promoted to a four-star admiral in the move. His confirmation hearing was completed only about 24 hours before the final vote, and less than a month after his nomination to the post.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee lauded his experience and demeanor during that Wednesday hearing, and had pushed Senate leaders to move quickly on his promotion this week to avoid waiting until September for final action.
Gilday, who has previously served as the head of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and 10th Fleet commander, was thrust into the path for the top Navy job after the sudden retirement of Adm. Bill Moran.
Moran had been confirmed for the chief of naval operations post before details emerged of a inspector general investigation and a continuing professional relationship with a former public affairs officer embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. Gilday’s nomination came after Moran’s retirement was announced.
Gilday’s promotion is the first time a three-star admiral has been lifted into the top uniformed Navy post in nearly five decades.
During his confirmation hearing, senators asked for details of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat “V” he earned early in his career as a tactical action officer.
“I was on the cruiser during the Gulf War, and we struck two mines,” Gilday said. “So I spent a lot of time as a result of that in a shipyard repairing that damage, and I feel that I have a unique perspective when it comes to shipyards, the great work that they do particularly with a combat-damaged ship that we saved.”
In recent weeks, Senate lawmakers have confirmed a flurry of nominees for high-profile Pentagon posts, including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.