Michelle Howard: Navy has its first female four-star admiral

(CNN) -- The U.S. Navy has promoted Vice Adm. Michelle Howard to admiral, making her the first female four-star officer in the Navy's 236-year-history, the White House said Tuesday.

Howard, who was the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship, will become deputy chief of naval operations, plans and strategy, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"Her historic career is taking a next step today," Earnest said.

Howard's promotion comes nearly six years after Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody became the U.S. military's first female four-star officer.

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Howard, a 1982 graduate of the Naval Academy, made history when she commanded the amphibious dock landing ship Rushmore in 1999, Earnest said.

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