SitRep: The next Army secretary

At least one name has already emerged as Army Secretary John McHugh's possible successor: Eric Fanning, who is Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's chief of staff.

Army Secretary John McHugh plans to leave his post as the service's top civilian by November, according to an email sent Monday to Army Times by the Army's chief of public affairs.

"Secretary McHugh has been a tremendous public servant for decades, and he has helped lead the Army through a period of challenge and change," said Defense Secretary Ash Carter in a release Monday morning. "There will be much time in the coming months to appropriately celebrate his many accomplishments, but for now I will just say that every soldier is better off because of his hard work and vision, and so is the country."

McHugh, who has served in the role since September 2009, recently told President Obama of his decision to depart before Nov. 1, "which he hopes will afford ample opportunity for a smooth transition," Brig. Gen. Malcolm Frost said in the email.

McHugh has held the post longer than any official since John Marsh Jr., the longest-serving Army secretary, who took the job in January 1981 and held it through August 1989. He's second in seniority among current service secretaries, with Ray Mabus holding the top Navy post since May 2009.

Tapped for the job while a member of Congress — representing a New York district that includes Fort Drum — McHugh had served as the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. At the time, he stressed his role at the Pentagon as a problem-solver, not a cheerleader.

"Good news will take care of itself," he told Army Times in late 2009. "The challenge is to get out in front of the things that are not so good. My job is to try to resolve things before they become national headlines."

McHugh "expressed his gratitude to the president and his appreciation to the Secretary of Defense and, most importantly, the men and women of the United States Army for the tremendous honor to serve as Secretary for these many years," Frost said in the email.