Obama nominates Eric Fanning to be Secretary of the Army

Eric Fanning, right, with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the man he's been nominated to replace, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, at the LGBT Pride Month ceremony in the Pentagon Auditorium on June 9, 2015.


By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 18, 2015

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Eric Fanning to be the next secretary of the Army, along with new undersecretaries for the Navy and Air Force.

Fanning served as the acting Army undersecretary since February, led the Air Force temporarily and worked closely with Defense Secretary Ash Carter when he took over the Pentagon. If confirmed, Fanning will be the first openly gay Army secretary.

The nomination comes after Obama picked Patrick Murphy, an Iraq war veteran and former lawmaker who authored the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, in August to become Army undersecretary.

“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new 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,” Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

Fanning, who did not serve in the military, started out in politics and rose from jobs at a Washington, D.C., communications firm and a think tank to hold top civilian jobs in the Pentagon.

He served as Air Force secretary for less than a year and was tapped as special assistant to Carter, building the new defense secretary’s leadership team and overseeing the office’s daily activities, according to his Pentagon bio.

His nomination marks another major milestone for the U.S. military as it undertakes historic shifts in treatment of sexuality and gender, such as the integration of women into combat roles and the recent decision to open the services to transgender troops.

Murphy, a former paratrooper and former Democrat lawmaker, championed national security as well as gay and transgender rights during his time in the House from 2007-11 and as a senior fellow at a progressive Washington think tank.

The president also on Friday nominated Janine Davidson, an Air Force veteran, as the next Navy undersecretary.

Davidson is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank. She served as an aircraft commander and senior pilot for C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft and more recently a college professor.

Lisa Disbrow was nominated as Air Force undersecretary, where she has served in a temporary capacity since April. She was on active duty from 1985 to 1992 and was as an Air Force operational planner, electronic intelligence analyst and programming officer, according to the White House.

Twitter: @Travis_Tritten

Patrick Murphy