HomeAsian AmericansIndian American Navy Vet, appointed as Harris’ defense advisor 

Indian American Navy Vet, appointed as Harris’ defense advisor 

Vice President Kamala Harris’ Senior Advisor Herbie Ziskend confirmed Shanti Sethi’s appointment to Harris’ office as executive secretary and defense advisor, The American Bazaar reports.

Sethi is tasked with coordinating National Security Advisor documentation across the Office of the Vice President, according to Indian Express.

During her 29-year career in the Navy, Sethi has become a trailblazer in her own right, National Herald India reports. She is the first Indian-American commander of a major US Navy Ship, and the 15th woman to do so. Her other accomplishments include commanding a missile destroyer ship the USS Decatur, which had a 281-member crew. Sethi retired with the rank as captain in the Navy.

“In the Navy, you transition through various levels of ranks, where you’re doing some specific jobs, and then you reach the level where you command as a commander, and then as a captain,” Sethi said in an interview with USA Today.

Sethi was born in Reno, Nevada, according to Indian Express. Sethi is a child of immigrants, with her mother immigrating from Canada and her father immigrating from India. Growing up in the 1970s, Sethi remembers being treated differently from a young age as there were few Indian Americans around her. 

Sethi later joined the Navy in 1993, but the combat exclusion law at that time limited her career path, especially in the Navy’s male-dominated environment, Sethi told USA Today. The law was no longer in effect when Sethi was an officer.

“You can’t be what somebody else thinks you should be,” Sethi said to USA Today, reflecting on her time in the Navy. “You really have to become comfortable in yourself and say, ‘This is who I am, and I can succeed as who I am. I don’t have to pretend or try to be someone else.'” 

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