President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services.
Fanning, 47, has been a specialist on national security issues for more than two decades and has played a key role overseeing some of the Pentagon’s biggest shipbuilding and fighter jet weapons programs. Now he will oversee an Army that has been battered by the longest stretch of continuous combat in American history and is facing potentially severe budget cuts. It’s also an Army that after a long stretch of patrolling Iraq and Afghan villages is searching for its post-war role in protecting the nation.
Fanning’s nomination, which still must be confirmed by the Senate, reflects a major shift for the Pentagon, which only four years ago still prevented openly gay troops from serving in the military. The policy didn’t extend to civilian leaders, like Fanning.
His long tenure in the Pentagon and his breadth of experience in shepherding some of the department’s most complex and sensitive weapons programs was a key factor in his nomination for the Army’s top job, administration officials said. “Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said in a statement.
Fanning’s rise to one of the Pentagon’s toughest and most prominent jobs also reflects the Obama’s commitment to diversity at the highest levels of his administration. During his time in office Obama has overhauled internal policies to provide benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal bench and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
READ MORE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-to-nominate-first-openly-gay-service-secretary-to-lead-the-army/2015/09/18/d4b1aafe-5e30-11e5-8e9e-dce8a2a2a679_story.html