Pentagon & Congress

Acting Army secretary expected to be confirmed soon as new secretary

The service is expected to welcome a new Army secretary in 2016.

Eric Fanning, formerly one of Defense Secretary Ash Carter's closest advisers, has been nominated for the job. His nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fanning, who as of Dec. 18 has not yet been scheduled for a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is currently serving as the acting Army secretary.

If confirmed, he would replace John McHugh, who retired Nov. 1 after more than six years on the job.

Fanning, who served a short stint as acting undersecretary of the Army, previously served as Carter's chief of staff.

Widely viewed as one of the most capable leaders in the Pentagon, Fanning became the Air Force undersecretary in April 2013. He served several months as acting secretary while the confirmation of now-Secretary Deborah Lee James was stuck in Congress. Before that, Fanning was deputy undersecretary of the Navy and its deputy chief management officer from 2009 to 2013.

In addition to his long resume, Fanning would also mark a milestone if he does become the Army secretary, as the first openly gay secretary of a military branch.

Fanning's nomination comes during a critical transition period for the Army, which has not only seen key leadership changes at the top but also continues to struggle with increasingly tight budgets and growing demands for troops around the world.

As acting Army secretary, Fanning has been busy visiting soldiers, including recent stops at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and Fort Benning, Georgia.

"This is a challenging time for our nation and for our Army," said Fanning on his official Army page. "My highest priority will be working to ensure soldiers receive the necessary resources and training to remain the greatest land power in the world. I am confident our Army will fight and win wherever our nation asks, whenever our country calls."

Fanning has declined to be interviewed pending Senate confirmation.

Also pending Senate confirmation is Patrick Murphy, who has been nominated to serve as the new under secretary of the Army.

Murphy, a Pennsylvania Democrat who served in the House from 2007 to 2011, served in the Army and Army Reserve for eight years before running for office. A combat veteran who deployed to Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division, Murphy was an outspoken critic of the war during his time in Congress. He also was one of the leading lawmakers in the effort to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law.

Murphy's confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee took place Dec. 15.

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