The story comes from The Washington Post.
Obama to nominate first openly gay service secretary to lead the Army
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 programs. Now he will oversee an Army that has been battered by the longest stretch of continuous combat in U.S. history and is facing potentially severe budget cuts. It’s also an Army that after a long stretch of patrolling Iraqi and Afghan villages is searching for its postwar role in protecting the nation.
Fanning’s nomination, which must go to the Senate for confirmation, reflects a major shift for the Pentagon, which only four years ago prevented openly gay troops from serving in the military. The policy didn’t extend to civilian leaders, such as 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 federal benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal courts and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.
As Army secretary, Fanning will be teamed with Gen. Mark Milley, who took over in August as the Army’s top general, the chief of staff. The two men will assume responsibility for the Pentagon’s largest and most troubled service.
The Army, which swelled to about 570,000 active-duty troops during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has shed about 80,000 soldiers in recent years and plans to cut 40,000 more over the next few years. The planned cuts would shrink the service to its smallest size of the post-World War II era.