Obama Nominee Would Be 1st Openly Gay Service Chief President nominates Eric Fanning for Army secretary By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Sep 18, 2015 3:48 PM CDT 84 comments Comments Rep. John McHugh and President Obama arrive in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, June 2, 2009, where the president announced that McHugh is his choice to become Army Secretary. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) (Newser) – President Barack Obama is nominating longtime Pentagon official Eric Fanning to be the Army's new secretary. If confirmed, Fanning would be the nation's first openly gay leader of a military service. Obama says Fanning brings years of experience and leadership to the role. He says in a statement that he's confident Fanning will lead US soldiers with distinction. Fanning is currently the Army's acting under secretary and has served as the Air Force's acting secretary and chief of staff to the Defense secretary. Fanning's nomination must be confirmed by the Senate. He would replace John McHugh, who has said he plans to step down no later than November 1.