Pentagon nominates next ‘sub boss’ amid Senate holdup of confirmations

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The Pentagon nominated Rear Adm. Robert Gaucher to serve as the commander of Naval Submarine Forces Friday. If confirmed, he will replace Vice Adm. Bill Houston as the so-called sub boss.

Gaucher is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he studied systems engineering. He has served as the director of strategic innovation in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations since August 2022.

He’s previously served as division officer on the attack submarine Flying Fish, executive officer of the ballistic missile submarine Maryland, commanding officer of fast attack submarine City of Corpus Christi, and commodore of Submarine Development Squadron Five.

Other assignments include instructor duty at Naval Nuclear Power School, serving as a flag aide for Commander, Submarine Force, and Maritime Operations branch head at U.S. Pacific Command.

If confirmed, Gaucher would also lead Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet and Allied Submarine Command in Norfolk, Virginia, as a three-star admiral.

Gaucher’s nomination is expected to be one of the hundreds held up by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who put a hold on nominations because of his objections to the Pentagon’s decision to give service members leave time and stipends to travel across state lines to receive abortion services.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote a letter to lawmakers, released Wednesday, cautioning that the hold on promotions and confirmations in the Senate “harms America’s national security and hinders the Pentagon’s normal operations.”

“Never before has one senator prevented the Department of Defense from managing its officer corps in this manner, and letting this hold continue would set a perilous precedent for our military, our security and our country,” Austin wrote.

Other nominations on hold due to Tuberville include new commanders for the U.S. 5th Fleet in the Middle East and the U.S. 7th Fleet in the Indo-Pacific.

USNI News was the first to report on the memo.

Military Times’ Deputy Editor Leo Shane III contributed to this report.