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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 5:11 p.m., Thursday, July 26, 2007

Roughead to be nominated as naval operations chief

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Adm. Gary Roughead, who commanded U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor from 2005 until May 2007, is being fast-tracked to be the next chief of naval operations, according to defense officials.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to nominate Roughead, now head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Roughead would replace Adm. Mike Mullen, who was nominated to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Navy has more than 340,000 active-duty personnel and more than 270 ships.

As the top naval commander in the Pacific, Roughead made training sailors to hunt enemy submarines his top war-fighting priority.

He spearheaded the humanitarian deployment of the hospital ship USNS Mercy to the southern Philippines and tsunami-devastated areas of Indonesia. The ship's mission came as the U.S. military has pushed to improve its image in predominantly Muslim nations and regions.

Roughead also worked with Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia to support their efforts to police the Malacca Strait.

The Fleet Forces Command is tasked with training and equipping sailors. It also keeps the chief of naval operations, the Navy's top uniformed officer, informed about the Navy's war fighting and readiness.

Roughead, a 1973 Naval Academy graduate, moved to the Pacific Fleet from the U.S. Pacific Command, where he served as deputy commander.

Roughead's name in January had come up as a possible candidate for chief of naval operations or head of U.S. Pacific Command, a job that went to Adm. Timothy Keating.