Defense Secretary selects Eric Fanning as first openly gay Pentagon Chief of Staff

Eric Fanning

Eric Fanning

WASHINGTON — U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has selected former acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning as his Chief of Staff, and the first openly gay man to hold the post.

Eric Fanning

Eric Fanning reports that Fanning, who was confirmed by the Senate in April 2013 to become the Air Force Under Secretary — the second-highest civilian position in the Air Force — was a key member of the transition team that guided Carter through his Senate confirmation hearings to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

As chief of staff, Fanning will have major sway over Carter’s schedule and access to his office.

A career civilian Defense Department official, Fanning served as the Navy’s deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer since July 2009 before becoming Under Secretary of the Air Force in 2013.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Fanning has also worked on Capitol Hill during the Clinton years as a research assistant with the House Armed Services Committee and then later he served as associate director of political affairs at the White House.

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In service to the LGBT community, Fanning also served on the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund from 2004 to 2007.

As Under Secretary, Fanning was responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 333,000 men and women on active duty, 178,000 members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, 182,000 civilians, and their families, and oversaw the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $110 billion.

Fanning is the highest ranking openly gay person at the Defense Department.

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