WASHINGTON — Eric Fanning assumed the post of acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force on Friday.
The promotion comes less than two months after the Senate confirmed Fanning, 44, as undersecretary of the Air Force. Fanning replaced Michael Donley, who stepped down on Friday as secretary of the Air Force, a post he has held since 2008.
Under federal law, the undersecretary automatically assumes the job of acting secretary until President Barack Obama names a replacement. There was no word yesterday whether Fanning would be Obama’s candidate for the job.
But Ohio officials and lawmakers quickly hailed the promotion, pointing out the advantage of having a senior Air Force post held by someone who grew up in the Dayton area near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest single-site employer in Ohio.
“His experience on Capitol Hill will help him lead the Air Force through unprecedented budget challenges, and his roots in the Miami Valley will provide him with a unique understanding of the importance of Ohio military installations like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base ... and Rickenbacker” in Columbus, said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
Rep. Michael Turner, R-Dayton, chairman of the House subcommittee on tactical, air and land forces, congratulated Fanning on the promotion, saying he looks “forward to working with him in support of the Air Force and their mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”
Michael Gessel, a vice president in the Washington office of the Dayton Development Coalition, said Fanning’s connection to the Dayton area “gives him a more intimate perspective on the base and its role in the Dayton region. Secretary Fanning brings to his position broad experience in defense policy with a good dose of Midwestern common sense.”
Fanning, who graduated from Centerville High in 1986, is a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth College. He also has served as deputy undersecretary of the Navy.