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The Coast Guard just got its second four-star admiral

The Coast Guard just got its second four-star admiral

(Photo: Chief Petty Officer Kyle Niemi/Coast Guard)

(Photo: Chief Petty Officer Kyle Niemi/Coast Guard)

Throughout its history, there as only been one — full admiral, that is — in the Coast Guard. But that changed Wednesday, when Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft welcomed his vice commandant into the ranks.

Adm. Charles Michel, who has held the job since August, pinned on a fourth star in a ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., bringing the service in line with the other armed forces, whose chiefs and vice chiefs are all four-star officers.

“I am humbled to be the first Coast Guard vice commandant promoted to the rank of four-star admiral,” Michel said in a Coast Guard release. “This promotion will enable me and future vice commandants to better represent the Coast Guard and the commandant.”

The move to get the service a second admiral came courtesy of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which required the Coast Guard to promote its three-star vice chief, mirroring the other services’ leadership structure.

The change, spearheaded by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was designed to “enable the vice commandant to better represent the Coast Guard and the commandant during frequent interactions with counterparts in the other armed services,” according to the NDAA.

“Admiral Michel is top notch, and he’s well respected among the Coast Guard and Congress — and that includes Representative Hunter,” Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, told Navy Times. “Installing another four-star admiral will give the Coast Guard greater depth and add to an already high level of experience at top.”

The vice commandant’s job blends the traditional roles of service vice chief and chief of staff, directly overseeing senior operational and mission support commanders and headquarters staff, and filling in as service chief in absence of the commandant.

Michel is a 1985 Coast Guard Academy graduate. His previous flag positions include deputy commandant for operations, deputy commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, director of Joint Interagency Task Force South, military adviser to the secretary of homeland security and the Coast Guard’s director of governmental and public

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