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Coast Guard names new top officer

The head of Coast Guard Atlantic Area has been nominated to be the Coast Guard’s next top officer, replacing the outgoing Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Vice Adm. Karl Schultz will take over a service in the middle of several major acquisition projects, including its first polar icebreaker in decades. He will also likely have to wage budget battles with the White House ― last year the service had to fight off a $1.3 billion cut.

Zukunft took to Twitter to endorse the selection by Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen.

“VADM Schultz provides sound leadership guiding our global military service in this extraordinary era of our Nation,” he tweeted.

On moving on: Adm. Paul Zukunft reflects on his tenure

Admiral Paul Zukunft is the Commandant of the Coast Guard, and recently, at the National Press Club, he gave his final State of the Coast Guard address. He then spoke exclusively to Defense News Executive Editor Jill Aitoro about a range of topics, from the new icebreakers to his legacy. (Jeff Martin and John Bretschneider/Staff)

Schultz will be filling big shoes if confirmed. Zukunft guided the service through tumultuous budget seasons and closed the deal on the new icebreaker, something the Coast Guard had been talking about for 20 years.

Zukunft was also a forceful leader in personnel policy, fighting to keep the cutters manned up and refusing to cut billets to pay for other priorities.

He also stood up to the White House after President Trump’s hastily announced ban on transgender servicemembers.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zukunft told the audience he had contacted a transgender Coast Guardsman and told her he would not turn his back on her.

Schultz has previously commanded the cutter Venturous, Acacia and Farallon. His previous flag assignments include Director of Operations for U.S. Southern Command and commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District.

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