Vice Adm. Michael T. Franken is from rural Iowa and graduated from the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska and from the College of Physics at the Naval Postgraduate School. He attended the Brookings Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI program, the Darden School and various other executive education courses.
Franken’s previous flag assignments include service as the initial director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), special assistant to the director of the Navy Staff, the Joint Staff J5 (Strategic Plans and Policy) interim chief of staff, the Department of the Navy Chief of Legislative Affairs, command of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HoA) in Djibouti, Africa, and nearly three years as vice director, Strategy, Plans and Policy (J5) at U.S. Central Command.
His formative operational assignments were in guided missile destroyers. He was the first commanding officer of USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) and served in USS King (DDG 41), USS Dahlgren (DDG 43) and USS Barry (DDG 52). As commodore, he commanded Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 and Task Group 152.0 for the Eisenhower Strike Group.
Franken is the U.S. Africa Command’s deputy for military operations. He is responsible to the commander for promoting the national security interests of the United States by strengthening the security capabilities of African nations, to include the conduct of military operations that create an environment conducive to development and responsible governance.
Ashore, Franken served in six operational staffs ranging from two readiness squadrons to a four-star fleet command. In Washington, D.C., he served two tours and a fellowship in congressional affairs for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy; in the Navy staff as the political-military chair in the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Executive Panel (N00K); in Information, Plans and Strategy’s (N3/N5) Deep Blue staff; in the Assessments Division (N81) in support of Navy’s representation in the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC); and in the Joint Staff’s Joint Operations Division (J5 and J33). He presented the worldwide orders book to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 2003 to 2005 and was the first military officer to serve as a legislative fellow for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.