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Obama pick for Army would be first openly gay service chief

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Eric Fanning spoke at the 30th Space Symposium Corporate Partnership dinner in May 2014, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Duncan Wood/U.S. Air Force via AP)

WASHINGTON » 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 U.S. 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.

The nomination comes as the Obama administration works to eliminate barriers to military service based on sexuality or gender.

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.

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