In a historic first, President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Eric K. Fanning to become the next secretary of the Army, replacing John McHugh, who had said he wanted to depart his post by November. Fanning, who is openly gay, has been acting under secretary of the Army and its chief management officer since being appointed by Obama in June 2015. Should his nomination be confirmed, he will become the first openly gay secretary of the Army.
Fanning has no lack of experience in defense. Before becoming acting under secretary, he served as chief of staff of the Department of Defense, helping manage Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s transition into the job. He also served as under secretary of the Air Force from 2013 to 2015, and as acting secretary of the Air Force from June 21 to Dec. 20, 2013. Beginning in 2009 he served as deputy under secretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy and was also deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Earlier in his career he served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee.
“Today, I want to congratulate Eric Fanning for his nomination to be the next secretary of the Army. President Obama has made an excellent choice, and I hope for a quick Senate confirmation,” said Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in a statement.
“Eric served as my first chief of staff at the Pentagon, and it has been a privilege over the course of my career to work alongside him and watch him develop into one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced public servants,” Carter continued. “I know he will strengthen our Army, build on its best traditions, and prepare our ground forces to confront a new generation of challenges.”