Metro Weekly

Gay man to become new acting undersecretary of the Army

Eric Fanning's move could foreshadow an appointment as the next Secretary of the Army

Eric Fanning. (Photo credit: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, via Wikimedia Commons.)
Eric Fanning – Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The top-ranking openly gay official in the Defense Department will become the new acting undersecretary of the Army, a move that could set him up for a future promotion in the coming months.

According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration’s decision to move Eric Fanning to the position of undersecretary may be telegraphing the president’s intent to appoint Fanning as Secretary of the Army after current Secretary John McHugh retires later this year. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, for whom Fanning served as chief of staff, confirmed the personnel change on Thursday. 

“Eric will provide Secretary McHugh with vital support as he prepares to conclude his tenure,” the Post quotes Carter as saying. “I will forever be grateful for Eric’s advice and leadership during this crucial first phase of my time as secretary of defense, and look forward to continuing to work with him as he helps lead the men and women of the world’s most powerful ground force.”

Fanning’s name was previously mentioned as one of the top contenders candidate for the position when McHugh announced his retirement back in June. McHugh, a former congressman from upstate New York, was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2009.

Fanning previously served as deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer of the Navy from 2009 to 2013. He was nominated by President Obama in 2012 and confirmed in 2013 as undersecretary of the Air Force, and temporarily assumed the position of acting secretary of the Air Force while current Secretary Deborah Lee James was waiting to be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed as Secretary of the Army, Fanning would make history by becoming the first openly gay head of a branch of the U.S. military.

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