Eric Fanning is set to become the first openly gay military leader in United States history, as the Senate confirmed that he will be the next secretary of the Army.
Fanning was nominated by President Barack Obama last September, but the nomination was stalled by Kansas senator Pat Roberts. Roberts first wanted assurance that detainees at Guantanamo Bay would not be sent to the Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The Obama administration has made efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and Roberts sought to prevent the detainees from being allowed to enter U.S. facilities.
Roberts spoke with Defense Secretary Robert Work on May 10, on the Senate floor to discuss the Guantanamo Bay situation. Work confirmed that the detainees would not be permitted to transfer because he would be the one to execute the transfer orders. Congress has also funded prohibitions in annual defense policy bills that would deny the transfer of the detainees to the U.S.
Roberts has said that he fully supports Fanning for the position and that he only held him up to make sure the detainees were not sent to United States facilities.
“He understands the significant and costly changes that would need to be made at Ft. Leavenworth to change the post’s mission,” Roberts told FoxNews. “Most importantly, he understands the legal restrictions on funding to move the detainees to Ft. Leavenworth by January 20, 2017.”
Previously, Fanning worked as the undersecretary of the Air Force from April 2013 to February 2015 and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
On Tuesday night, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement,
“I want to congratulate Eric Fanning on his confirmation as secretary of the Army by the U.S. Senate.” “Eric is one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced defense officials and I am confident he will make an exceptional secretary. Eric’s experienced leadership will be an invaluable asset to the Army at this important moment. I appreciate his willingness to serve and his continued commitment to our men and women in uniform.”