SEOUL – Rear Admiral Lisa Franchetti said she has come a long way to serve as the first female commander in the U.S. Navy in Korea and hopes to see more talented women in uniform follow her suit to take leadership roles in the military.
Franchetti told Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) candidates at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul about her Navy career starting from the Naval ROTC program at Northwestern University to lead 450 U.S. sailors and Marines in South Korea.
“I know that you realize I’m the first woman CNFK (Commander Naval Forces Korea). But I’m sure I’m not gonna be the last woman CNFK,” Franchetti said in a lecture on leadership and career development. “As I look behind me, there are many, many way more talented women than me that are coming and ready to take jobs I have already served. One of them will someday come here.”
Sookmyung was the first female-only college to open an ROTC program, in 2010, and its cadets ranked first in ROTC unit evaluation for both men and women in 2012.
The one-star general said it was not easy to punch through the glass ceiling in the U.S. Navy, which allowed women on combat ships only after 1994.
“We were quite frustrated when we were young that we could not get on the combatant ships, so we worked even harder to be able to do that,” said Franchetti, who was commissioned in 1985. “When the door opened for us, we were standing, waiting and ready, and walked through that door.”
Franchetti formerly served as a military assistant to the secretary of the Navy in Washington, D.C. Among her sea assignments was a stint as assistant surface operations officer for the George Washington Strike Group deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“These new opportunities were great. I was definitely the beneficiary of lots of great opportunities,” she said.
Franchetti, who now lives with her husband and seven-year-old daughter on the Yongsan base, told female cadet applicants to create a balance between work, family and physical health to become a successful leader.
Her civilian husband left his job to take care of their daughter, who is learning the Korean martial art taekwondo and Korean.
“We are very excited to be here. It’s quite an honor to serve for our alliance,” Franchetti said. “I think this will be the best opportunity for my daughter’s life to live overseas in such a wonderful country to learn everything she can about the Korean culture.”
Franchetti, who also serves as the naval component commander for the United Nations Command and naval component commander for U.S. Forces Korea, says the U.S. Navy stationed on the peninsula is a “good expeditionary force” that closely cooperates with the South Korean Navy and other branches of the military.
“We feel that although we have just a small number of folks here, we bring a lot of naval forces every year and continue to develop our combined capabilities of navies to strengthen our alliance,” she said.
“I think we have the strongest alliance we have in the entire world. You should be very proud to become part of this alliance. It is our everyday duty to continue to strengthen that alliance.”