WASHINGTON – Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy was officially sworn in as the Army’s under secretary on Wednesday, about two months after the senate confirmed him for the position.
Though the Pentagon ceremony officially installed him as the Army’s No. 2 civilian, he has been serving as the acting secretary of the Army since mid-January, when President Barack Obama’s choice for that role, Eric Fanning, stepped aside amid a political dispute.
“This is such an awesome, awesome honor to be back in the Army family,” said Murphy, who served as a judge advocate officer in the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad in 2002 and 2003. He later taught law at The U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
In 2006, Murphy became the first Iraq War veteran to be elected to U.S. House of Representatives, serving the eighth congressional district in his native Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2011.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Wednesday lauded Murphy as “a wonderful individual and an American paratrooper,” who is fully committed to his job serving soldiers, their families and the Army’s civilian workforce.
Murphy, like Milley, has pledged to make combat readiness to fight terrorism and large-scale conventional war his top priority in both of his roles with the Army.
He noted 15 years of war and an increasingly volatile world has placed a strain on America’s shrinking Army. He vowed to do what he can to “fight for” soldiers who voluntarily serve their country.
Fanning, who attended the Wednesday ceremony, was nominated by Obama in September to become the Army’s top civilian. He served as acting secretary when former Army Secretary John McHugh departed the position in September. But Fanning stepped aside Jan. 11 because of a hold placed on his confirmation by a Republican senator.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has blocked Fanning’s nomination in protest of Obama’s plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Roberts has said the hold is “nothing personal” against Fanning, but the senator confirmed Wednesday that he will continue it following the president’s release Tuesday of his blueprint to close the facility. Other Republicans have backed Roberts, while Democratic leadership has blasted the move.
For now, Murphy will continue to serve as acting Army secretary, an Army spokesperson said Wednesday.
“I’ve always been proud to be a soldier,” Murphy said. “I’ll be an Army soldier for life.”