Showing posts with label USArmy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USArmy. Show all posts

June 3, 2016

The New Gay Secretary of the Army Speaks Out


                                                                         

Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military branch, says he now embraces the historic role that he once felt uneasy about.

"I've gotten used to the fact that this is going to be a part of any time I get a new job or do something," he told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday.
"And when it first happened I was more bothered by it because I didn't quite have the track record that people know now. And I wanted the focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point. And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn't allowed to serve and so chose another route."

"And when it first happened I was more bothered by it because I didn't quite have the track record that people know now. And I wanted the focus on qualifications. Now I embrace it," he said. "It's so important to so many people, I realize. And something I didn't have 25 years ago."

"It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor," Fanning added.

The Senate confirmed Fanning's nomination last month, a move that came five years after Congress repealed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that had banned openly gay service members from serving in the U.S. military if they acknowledged their sexual orientation. The policy had been in place since 1994 and played a big role in some of Fanning's career choices.

RELATED: Welcome to NBC OUT — elevating the conversation around LGBTQ news

"I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn't see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man," he said. "And so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined."

While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

"I feel a responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I'm gay," he said. "And I take that responsibility very seriously. I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point. And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn't allowed to serve and so chose another route."

Fanning's tenure could be a brief one. Technically, he only has eight months of job security since the next president will get to select a new secretary of the Army.

"I think the service secretaries are just amazingly rewarding jobs. That said, January 21st, I imagine myself on a beach someplace," he quipped.

Asked if he would be willing to repeat the arduous Senate confirmation procedure in the next administration for a promotion — to Secretary of Defense — Fanning said it's too soon to imagine the scenario.

“Right now, I can't imagine going through the process again," he said.

Eun Kyung Kim
Today

May 19, 2016

It Happened: The1st Openly Gay Secretary of the Army Gets Confirmed



                                                                       
Eric Fanning
                                                                          
In January of this year, Eric Fanning testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be the next secretary of the Army. The line of questioning from lawmakers was standard for hearings with military officials these days. Is the United States winning the war against ISIS? How long until Iraqi troops regain control of Mosul? What’s the status of the military’s plan to integrate women into combat roles?

As with any job interview, Fanning’s life outside of work didn’t come up. But that omission is what made the Senate’s decision to confirm Fanning as the 22nd Army secretary this week such a historic moment: Fanning is now the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service, and the highest-ranking openly gay Pentagon official in the country’s history.

The Senate confirmed Fanning by unanimous voice vote on Tuesday, eight months after President Obama nominated him to replace John McHugh, who held the position for six years. When McHugh left in November, Fanning was named acting secretary. But Senator John McCain, the Republican from Arizona and chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued Fanning should not serve in the job while his confirmation was pending, and he resigned in January, just over a week before his confirmation hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to move Fanning’s nomination forward in March, but it was stalled until this week for reasons unrelated to the job. Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican from Kansas, had placed a hold on Fanning’s nomination as he sought assurances from Obama administration officials that they would not move any Guantanamo Bay detainees to Fort Leavenworth, in his home state. Roberts said Tuesday he had received them from Robert Work, the deputy defense secretary.

“Practically speaking, the clock has run out for the president” to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo, said Roberts in a speech on the Senate floor. Roberts said Fanning “has always had my support for this position.”

“My issue has never been—let me make that very clear—with Mr. Fanning’s character, his courage, or his capability,” he said. “He will be a tremendous leader.”

LGBT groups and their supporters praised the confirmation Tuesday. “Eric Fanning’s historic confirmation today as Secretary of the U.S. Army is a demonstration of the continued progress towards fairness and equality in our nation’s armed forces,” said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay-rights organization in the U.S. “History was made today,” said the 83-member Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus in a Facebook post. “We’ve come a long way from don’t ask, don’t tell.” Fanning, on his official Twitter account, @SECARMY, retweeted a congratulatory message from Ellen DeGeneres that read, “5 years & we’re already running the place.”

In 2011, Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that since 1994 banned openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military and forced LGBT service members to hide their sexual orientation.

Fanning has never served in the military, but the Army secretary is a civilian position. Fanning has held several senior positions at the Pentagon, including acting under secretary of the Army, under secretary of the Air Force, and deputy under secretary of the Navy. One of his first jobs in Washington was as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee.

May 16, 2016

Only ONE Senator Stalling Confirmation of Gay Man for Secretary of Army



It's been eight months since President Barack Obama nominated Eric Fanning to become secretary of the Army — the first openly gay man to be recommended to that branch's highest ranking civilian position. 
Since then, he's no closer than he was months ago to a confirmation. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, is holding up Fanning's confirmation because the lawmaker wants Obama to promise not to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military installation. 




Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning USAF

"Let me be very clear on this — as a veteran, a Marine — I support Mr. Eric Fanning for this post," Roberts said on the Senate floor late last month. "If the White House calls and assures me that terrorists held at Guantanamo will not come to Ft. Leavenworth, I will release the hold - immediately."  
White House officials suggested Roberts is grandstanding. 
"It is hard to imagine that Senator Roberts takes this particularly seriously," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in a press briefing last month. "You may recall the last time that anybody has talked about Senator Roberts was when he filmed a video of himself crumbling up the president's plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and throwing it in a wastebasket. So maybe he relishes the opportunity to be before the camera, but it's not apparent that he takes this critically important national security issue all that seriously." 
The standoff stems from the president's announcement of a long-anticipated pitch to Congress in February to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Keeping the prison open, the president said, is "contrary to our values." 


Image: Pat Roberts


Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, left, answers a question during a debate with independent candidate Greg Orman listens during a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Hutchinson, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Charlie Riedel / AP

"It's been clear that the detention center at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security," Obama said from the Roosevelt Room at the White House earlier this year. "It undermines it." 
The administration is weighing 13 locations across the country, including seven existing prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas and six additional sites on current military bases. Officials have said the plan doesn't highlight a preferred site. 
 The response — especially from Republicans in Congress — was swift and critical. 
Roberts who has represented Kansas for nearly two decades, and lawmakers from Colorado and South Carolina has been vocal in objecting to moving Guantanamo detainees to their states. 
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of House Armed Services Committee, sent the president a letter outlining the details he expected to see in any closure plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the chamber floor and said the president was fixed "on one matter by one campaign promise he made in 2008." 
 Obama Submits Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay 3:51
However, Roberts took his opposition a step further. 
"With this hold, I have used one of the tools afforded to me as a U.S. Senator, and I will continue to do everything in my power to fulfill my obligations to protect the national security of the United States. It is what Kansans expect and demand of me," Roberts said on the Senate floor last month. 
In March he introduced a Senate resolution rejecting any efforts to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to American facilities. 
The impasse remains despite the efforts of Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee — who calls Roberts a "good friend" — to move the process along, 
Late last month an exasperated McCain took to the Senate floor and begged his colleague to lift his hold. 


Image: U.S. Republican Senator McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem


U.S. Republican Senator John McCain speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem January 3, 2014 AMMAR AWAD / Reuters

"It is not fair to the men and the women of the United States Army to be without the leadership of a secretary of the Army," McCain said on the Senate floor. "Mr. Fanning is eminently qualified to assume that role of Secretary of the Army. So I would urge my friend and colleague to allow me to… to not object to the unanimous consent that I am just proposing." 
Roberts remains unmoved. So does the White House. 
"Mr. Fanning is somebody that has extensive experience at the Department of Defense," Earnest told reporters during a briefing last week. "He's served in a number of roles there. And he would bring that experience and that judgment to the secretary's office. The president believes that he is exactly the right person for the job. And its unconscionable for Republicans to continue to block his nomination for no good reason."
Posted as written by by 

September 19, 2015

Pres.Obama NominatesFirst Openly Gay Secretary of the Army


                                                                         
Eric Fanning Historic Gay Under Secretary of the AF Now Nominated as Secretary of the Army

President Obama, in a historic first for the Pentagon, has chosen to nominate Eric Fanning to lead the Army, a move that would make him the first openly gay civilian secretary of one of the military services.

Fanning’s nomination is the latest in a series of actions taken by the administration to advance the rights of gays and lesbians throughout the federal government. The Obama administration has overhauled internal policies to provide benefits to same-sex partners, appointed gay men and lesbians to the executive branch and the federal bench and ended the 18-year ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Fanning, who must still be confirmed by the Senate, 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 in a statement. “I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

The Army, which swelled to about 570,000 active duty troops, has shed about 80,0000 soldiers from its ranks in recent years and plans to cut 40,000 more over the next few years. Those planned cuts would shrink the service to its smallest size of the post-World War II era.
Battered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has had to deal with a spike in suicides as the wars drew to an end and has struggled at times to provide the war wounded with the care they need to heal.

Recently, the Army’s outgoing top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, said that tight budgets and the ongoing strain of 14 years of war had badly degraded the Army’s readiness to fight and that only one-third of its brigades were prepared to deploy to a war zone, the lowest readiness rate in decades.

Fanning’s role as Army secretary would give him influence over the generals the Army selects to rebuild the service after a long stretch of counterinsurgency wars in which soldiers dismounted from their tanks and armored vehicles and found themselves leading foot patrols through remote villages.

                                                                     
                                                                        

Much of Fanning’s time in the Pentagon has been overseeing massive ship and aircraft programs. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter tapped Fanning last year to oversee his transition team as he moved into the Pentagon’s top job.

Fanning served briefly as acting Air Force secretary and has been acting undersecretary of the Army since June 2015.

“He understands how the Pentagon works and how to get things done in the Pentagon,” said Rudy de Leon, who was deputy defense secretary in the Clinton administration. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work” inside the federal government’s largest bureaucracy.

Fanning would play a key role in helping the Army, which has struggled to field new combat systems amid the strain of fighting two wars, to upgrade aging tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters. Since 2000, the Army has been forced to cancel virtually all of its major new weapons programs because they ran over budget or didn’t perform as expected.

 LGBT issues are advancing by the day in the United States, and with it, there’s a growing class of Washington power players. Here is 21 of the most influential openly gay, lesbian and bisexual people working in the capital, part of a list as compiled by the National Journal.
New equipment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, like special armored vehicles designed to resist blasts from roadside bombs, had to be developed outside of the traditional procurement channels.

“Eric is taking over at a critical time for the Army,” de Leon said “The Army is still living off equipment from the Reagan years.”


Greg Jaffe covers the White House for The Washington Post, where he has been since March 2009.

January 26, 2015

Married Army General Coming Out as Gay


                                                                         


A married Army general has said he is planning to come out as gay to highlight what he claims is continuing widespread homophobic discrimination in the armed forces.
The officer, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, would be the most senior member of the forces yet publicly to state his homosexuality. He said bullying and abuse of gay soldiers remained rife and prejudice was found in the highest ranks of the services.

The unnamed general told The Mail on Sunday that he would make a final decision in the coming weeks on whether openly to declare his sexuality. He said that he was one of a number of senior officers in the Army, RAF and Royal Navy who had hitherto kept secret the fact they were gay for fear of damaging their careers. Gay soldiers had fought with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added, and he had met homosexual members of the elite Special Air Service (SAS).

The criticism will be a blow to the Ministry of Defence, which has made countering homophobia in the forces a priority. All three branches of the military – along with MI5 – were listed last week by the gay rights group Stonewall as being among Britain’s top 100 most gay-friendly employers.

The general, who has served for nearly 30 years, said he had decided to come forward after another “very senior officer” told him he believed an admission of homosexuality by a senior officer would be “career suicide”. He said: “The armed forces cannot claim to be an equal opportunities employer when the view persists that any senior officer who announces he is gay will see his or her career go up in smoke.”                                               

He added that there were branches of the Army where he did not think it would “be acceptable for an openly gay man to serve as a commanding officer; the infantry, artillery and the armored corps being examples”.

But he added: “Are the armed forces ready to have a gay Parachute Regiment commanding officer, or Royal Marines or Guards commander? Would the Establishment accept an openly gay commanding officer of the SAS? The forces claim to be equal-opportunities employers but [are not] in my opinion.”

The serving officer, who is the first general to declare his homosexuality, said he told his wife he was gay several years ago and they decided to stay together. He said he had never had a relationship with another serviceman and had kept that part of his life “effectively secret”.
Homosexuality remained illegal in the forces until 2000, with gay and lesbian personnel subjected to investigation by military police and discharged with a criminal record if “outed”.
Since the law changed, the Ministry of Defense has put in place measures to identify and punish homophobic bullying and said it encourages gay and transgender men and women to join up.

According to an estimate by Stonewall, there are likely to be up to 14,000 gay members of Britain’s armed forces. It is, nonetheless, still unusual for a senior officer to declare his or homosexuality. General Tammy Smith is the only openly gay officer of her rank or above in the US Army – five times the size of Britain’s.

The MoD said last night: “The Army has worked tirelessly over the past 15 years to become more inclusive. Our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender forum is vibrant and offers confidential support, advice and mentoring to any personnel who are considering coming
out.”

July 30, 2014

Thousands of American Weapons given to Afghanistan Missing


                                                                           
U.S. forces help train new Kabul police recruits to fire the AK-47 assault rifle on the grounds of the Kabul Military Training Center in this 2009 photo. A newly released report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction finds that the Defense Department has not accurately tracked 747,000 weapons purchased for Afghan National Security Forces.

Neither the American military nor the Afghan government can keep track of hundreds of thousands of weapons provided to Afghan security forces, sparking fears that some could land in the hands of insurgents or terrorist groups, according to a U.S. watchdog.
Of the nearly half a million weapons registered in a U.S. Department of Defense database called OVERLORD, more than 40 percent of the entries had missing or duplicated information, investigators with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in a report released on Monday.
Another U.S. government inventory database had similarly incomplete information, the report found.
Since 2004 the United States has provided Afghan security forces with more than 700,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment worth about $626 million, SIGAR said. Now however, inconsistencies in the methods used by both the U.S. and Afghanistan to track those weapons have left potentially tens of thousands of weapons unaccounted for.
“Accountability over these weapons within DOD prior to their transfer to Afghan ownership is affected by incompatible inventory systems that have missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records, that may result in missing weapons prior to transfer to the ANSF,” investigators concluded. “However, the problems are far more severe after the weapons are transferred to the ANSF. ANSF record-keeping and inventory processes are poor and, in many cases, we were unable to conduct even basic inventory testing at the ANSF facilities we visited.”
As an example, SIGAR noted that the Afghan National Army has 83,184 more AK-47 assault rifles than it needs. The Russian-designed rifles were phased put in favor of NATO weapons to ensure compatibility, but the excess guns were never disposed of, and the Defense Department told SIGAR investigators it doesn’t have the authority to do anything about it.
That issue of excess weapons will only be exacerbated by the planned reduction in the number of Afghan forces, SIGAR argued.
“Without confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to account for or properly dispose of these weapons, SIGAR is concerned that they could be obtained by insurgents and pose additional risks to Afghan civilians and the ANSF,” the report concluded.
SIGAR recommended that the Defense Department patch the holes in its databases, and work with the Afghan government to try to recover the extra weapons, including by requiring the Afghans to conduct a comprehensive inventory check.
In written responses to the SIGAR report, Defense officials said they are already in the process of combing their two databases into one. They said they are working to make future delivery of weapons contingent on regular inventory check, but that it’s up to the Afghan government to determine how many weapons it needs and what to do with them.
“It is the Afghan government’s responsibility, not DOD’s, to determine if they have weapons in excess of their needs,” Defense officials wrote. “It is premature to speculate on potential ANSF force strength reductions. Weapons that are transferred to the ANSF become property of the Afghan government and under its control.”
Stars and Stripes

January 27, 2014

We Still Have Guys in Afghanistan-Let’s Not forget!

Apache being refueled to take up in the air again.  What goes up there, not always comes down the way it went.  Worrisome!


       



                                                                     
                                                                           

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