In a historic first, the U.S. Navy has announced that a woman will head the U.S. Naval War College. Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, a naval aviator who has served in Afghanistan and Guam, will be the college's first female president, according to a statement from the Navy.
"Rear Admiral Chatfield is a historic choice for the Naval War College," Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said in a statement last week. "She is the embodiment of the type of warrior-scholar we need now to lead this storied institution as it educates our next generation of leaders."
Chatfield's appointment comes on the heels of the college's former president, Rear Adm. Jeffery Harley, being "administratively reassigned pending the final report of an ongoing Inspector General investigation," according to a Navy press release. Harley, who took over as president of the Naval War Colleg in 2016, was named Director of Navy Staff.
On Friday, Spencer said Chatfield would help lead the college as it established and integrated a new Naval University system. "As our Education for Seapower (E4S) Study noted, our capacity for critical thinking in an age of increasing complexity will be our most important strategic advantage," he said. "Admiral Chatfield will play a pivotal role in leading the War College as it integrates into the new Naval University system we are now establishing to foster a culture of continuous learning in the naval services."
According to a biography supplied by the Navy, Chatfield was born in Garden Grove, California, before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and French Language and Literature in 1987 from Boston University. Chatfield went on to be commissioned into the Navy via the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) in 1988, earning her "wings of gold" in 1989, designating her a naval aviator.
After winning the Navy's Political/Military Scholarship, she attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she received a Master of Public Administration in 1997. Years later, in 2009, she received a Doctor of Education from the University of San Diego, according to her military biography.
During her career in the Navy, Chatfield has reportedly deployed to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulfs as part of helicopter detachments supporting Carrier Strike Group and Amphibious Ready Group Operations. She has also commanded a joint provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan, the HSC Wing, and the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Currently, Chatfield serves as the commander of the Joint Region Marianas in Guam. It was unclear from Friday's press release exactly when Chatfield would take over at the Naval War College.
According to the press release, the U.S. Naval War College is "the oldest institution of its kind in the world," having been established in 1884. In 1885, the college's first class — comprised of just nine students — graduated. Since then the institution claims to have graduated more than 50,000 students. The Navy also reports that roughly 300 of its active duty admirals, generals, and senior executive service leaders can be counted as alumni.