New Commanders Nominated to Lead Pacific, Middle East Fleets

January 28, 2023 10:24 AM - Updated: January 29, 2023 11:15 PM
Rear Adm. Fred Kacher (l), Rear Adm. George Wikoff (r)

Two admirals currently serving in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff have been nominated to lead numbered fleets in the Middle East and the Pacific, the Department of Defense announced on Friday.

Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, currently the vice director for Operations (J-3) on the Joint Staff, has been nominated for a third star and to command U.S. 7th Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, according to the announcement. He would succeed the current 7th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Karl Thomas.

Rear Adm. George Wikoff, current vice director of the Joint Staff, has been nominated for a promotion to vice admiral and to lead U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain. He would follow the current U.S. 5th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper.

Kacher, a career surface warfare officer, has served on cruisers and destroyers and deployed to both the Atlantic and Pacific, according to his Navy bio. At sea, he commanded guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) and served as the executive officer of USS Barry (DDG-52). He commanded Destroyer Squadron 7 based in Singapore and commanded the Japan-based Expeditionary Strike Group 7. Leading ESG-7, Kacher sailed on four patrols aboard amphibious warship USS America (LHA-6). During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, America was underway for extended periods in the Western Pacific while carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) was pier side in Guam coping with a COVID-19 outbreak.
He is a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Wikoff is a career fighter pilot with experience flying F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18s Hornets. He has deployed aboard the former aircraft carriers USS America (CV-66) and USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63). He commanded the “Fighting Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the “Flying Eagles” of the fleet replacement squadron VFA-122. He also commanded Carrier Air Wing 3 while it was embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and also commanded Japan-based Carrier Strike Group 5, according to his bio. Ashore his assignments include time as an instructor at Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (TOPGUN), battle director for the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar, chief of staff for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command as chief of staff in Bahrain, executive assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations and Joint Staff as deputy director for operations.
He is a 1990 graduate of The Catholic University of America.

The following is the complete Jan. 27, 2023, flag officer announcement from the Pentagon.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced that the president has made the following nominations:

Navy Rear Adm. Fred Kacher for appointment to the grade of vice admiral, with assignment as commander, Seventh Fleet, Yokosuka, Japan. Kacher is currently serving as vice director for Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

Navy Rear Adm. George Wikoff for appointment to the grade of vice admiral, with assignment as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command; commander, Fifth Fleet; and commander, Combined Maritime Forces, Manama, Bahrain. Wikoff is currently serving as vice director, Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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