Madam Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Commander Shanti Sethi, United States Navy, who provided invaluable service to this House on national security issues for the last two years as a liaison officer assigned to the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs and who will soon be on the front lines of our Nation's defense as the commanding officer of a United States Navy destroyer.
Commander Sethi is a native of Reno, Nevada but was raised in Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and California. Her step-father is Hall of Fame drag racer Conrad ``Connie'' Kalitta and she spent many of her formative years at the track honing her mechanical skills. She graduated from Norwich University in 1993 with a degree in International Affairs and commissioned through the NROTC program. She holds a Masters Degree in International Policy and Practice from The George Washington University.
At sea, Commander Sethi served on USS Butte (AE 27) from March 1994 to June of 1996 as Communications Officer and Electrical Officer, making a Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf deployment in support of Operations Deny Flight, Sharp Guard, and Southern Watch. From August of 1996 through October of 1998, she served as the commissioning Navigator onboard USS Hopper (DDG 70). During this tour she supported a Panama Canal transit, accelerated test and trials, and a Middle East Force deployment in support of Operation Southern Watch commencing within one year of the ship's commissioning. She served as the Weapons Officer and Combat Systems Officer on USS Higgins (DDG 76) from March of 2001 until May of 2003. Onboard USS Higgins, she completed an Arabian Gulf deployment for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom including missile defense tracking and cruise missile operations. She subsequently participated in the first test of crew exchange on destroyers serving as Combat Systems officer on USS Benfold (DDG 65) until her transfer in November of 2003. Commander Sethi was selected for early sea command and assumed command of MHC crew BOLD in April 2006 while embarked in USS Blackhawk (MHC 58). During her command she was responsible for training Greek naval officers in the operation of MHC vessels prior to foreign military exchange. She subsequently assumed command of MHC crew Detector embarked on USS Kingfisher (MHC 56) where her ship provided valuable services to pre-deployment workups for Navy carrier strike groups.
Her shore assignments include serving as the Executive Assistant to the Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, Resource Officer for Shipboard Protection Systems and Shipboard Radar Systems on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations where she was instrumental in the rapid fielding of systems to protect warships from small boat and unconventional attacks, and her current assignment as the surface warfare liaison officer assigned to the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs.
In her current assignment Commander Sethi's responsibilities included primary liaison for surface combatant construction, surface ship combat and weapons systems, ballistic missile defense, and a myriad of other logistical and operational issues affecting the surface fleet. CDR Sethi provided invaluable support to me, the Committee on Armed Services, and the various Members and personal staff of the subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces. She displayed a unique ability to explain complex military requirements against the backdrop of uncertain future threats. In this she served this committee well and reflected great credit upon herself and the United States Navy.
Madam Speaker, I have the great honor to inform the House that Commander Sethi has been selected to assume command of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73). When she does so, she will be only the 15th female officer to command a capital ship of the line. For myself and the other Members of the subcommittee we wish Commander Sethi fair winds, following seas, and Godspeed as she leads her crew in the protection of our nation.
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