Are the armed forces becoming President Barack Obama’s latest social experiment?
Obama nominated the first openly gay civilian head of a military branch, and if confirmed by the Senate, Eric Fanning will soon assume the reins as secretary of the Army.
This marks the latest effort by the president, who campaigned in 2008 against same-sex marriage, to advance the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, according to The Washington Post.
The Post reported that Fanning:
… has been a specialist on defense and national security issues for more than 25 years in Congress and the Pentagon. As Army secretary, he would be partnered with Gen. Mark Milley, who took over as the Army’s top general in August. Together the two men would assume responsibility for the Pentagon’s largest and most troubled service.
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” Obama said, the Post reported. “I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”
The White House on Friday released the following statement about Fanning’s experience and qualifications:
Eric K. Fanning has served as Acting Under Secretary of the Army since June 2015. He has served as Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter since March 2015, including as Chief of Staff to the Secretary from March to June 2015. From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Fanning served as Under Secretary of the Air Force and as Acting Secretary of the Air Force in 2013. Mr. Fanning previously served as a Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy from 2009 to 2013. Prior to joining the Administration, he was Deputy Director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. Mr. Fanning worked for Business Executives for National Security (BENS), first as the Washington Regional Director in 2001 and then as Senior Vice President for Strategic Development from 2001 to 2007. Prior to joining BENS, Mr. Fanning held a number of positions, including Senior Associate at Robinson, Lerer & Montgomery in New York and Associate Producer at CBS News. He began his career in public service serving as an Associate Director of Political Affairs at The White House in 1996, Special Assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1993 to 1996, and as a Research Assistant for the Committee on Armed Services in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1993. Mr. Fanning received a B.A. from Dartmouth College.
When Fanning served as acting secretary of the Air Force in 2013, he had the opportunity to visit several bases.
There’s no question Fanning is qualified for the appointment, but one can’t help but wonder if his sexual orientation gave him a leg up. Others wondered also:
@WSJ please let us all know when the next straight secretary is appointed since sexuality seems to matter so much. #whocares
— Nick Jones (@NCJ1988) September 19, 2015
@WSJ @glubold so was he appointed as the Secretary of the Army or the First Openly Gay Army Secretary? Just curious? — Curtis McDonald (@CurtisMcDonald1) September 19, 2015
@WSJ I can’t wait until Odumbo leaves office. The Armed forces are NOT a social experiment! — Brian Edwards (@BEdwards85) September 19, 2015
@WSJ @glubold Being gay is a qualification? — matt (@NothappyMatt) September 19, 2015
All Hail Diversity! Obama Nominates First Openly Gay Army Secretary… http://t.co/yPdOP7lU8n via @WeaselZippers — David Smith (@DancrDave) September 19, 2015
MT Will Gay Army secretary come bearing Doritos #kimdavis #BoycottDoritos #pjnet #Hannity http://t.co/w6aH2ofk5P pic.twitter.com/oJqKZVuuzn — Joe Hearn (@JoeHNewYork) September 19, 2015
The Army National Guard’s famed 42nd Infantry Division has been known since its inception during World War I as the “Rainbow Division.” If nothing else, Fanning’s appointment gives the 42nd’s nickname a whole new meaning.
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