US President Barack Obama on Friday nominated an openly gay civilian to head the Army, a first for such a job at the Pentagon.
Obama nominated Eric Fanning to be the next Secretary of the Army, as the service faces a variety of budgetary, operational and social issues. Fanning has held a number of top Pentagon positions, including most recently as former chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
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Fanning, a former journalist, has been serving in an acting role as undersecretary of the Army since June. If confirmed by the US Senate, he would replace John McHugh, a former Republican congressman from New York, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
Obama said Fanning brings “many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership” to the role. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction,” he said.
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Fanning’s success in being confirmed is unclear. Although it is unlikely senators will object to his qualifications or to him personally, many top Obama nominations for Pentagon and other government posts have been held up by the Republican-controlled as the end of Obama’s second administration nears its final year.