As we start moving into the business-end of the Democratic Party’s selection process for its candidate for the 2020 Presidential election, one of the influential names lining up behind Pete Buttigieg is Eric Fanning.

Fanning – Secretary of the Army during the Obama administration, and the first gay man to head any of the services – forms part of Buttigieg’s foreign policy advisory team.

According to reporting by Foreign Policy magazine, Doug Wilson is leading on foreign policy for the Buttigieg campaign. As well as Fanning, Wilson has pulled together a team of experts that represent generational change in US politics – people such as Ned Price, a former CIA official and National Security Council staffer; Amanda Sloat, an expert on European issues and former State Department official; Rebecca Bill Chavez, a former senior Pentagon official and scholar on Latin America; and Robert Holleyman, a former deputy trade representative under President Barack Obama.

At this stage, foreign policy considerations appear unlikely to play a major role in the 2020 election, but candidates need to be able to respond to any key foreign policy developments. The advisory team of the successful candidate will also be likely to transition into senior roles in the administration.

Eric Fanning is a big hitter in Washington. When it comes to Foreign Policy, he’s the kind of guy that you’d want on your team.

Who is Eric Fanning?

Eric Fanning is an American politician who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of the Army, holding office from May 18, 2016 to January 20, 2017. He was the first gay head of any service in the U.S. military.

Early life

Born in 1968, Fanning was raised in Michigan. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990, having studied history.

He entered political life when he participated in the 1988 New Hampshire primary contest.

Career

Fanning progressively worked his way up in the world of American politics. In the 1990s, he was on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee and later a special assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense. He later served as associate director of political affairs at the White House.

Fanning served as deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy beginning in July 2009. He was also deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.

After being nominated by President Obama, the US Senate confirmed Fanning as Under Secretary of the Air Force in 2012.

In 2015, President Obama nominated Fanning as United States Secretary of the Army, and he was subsequently confirmed by the Senate. Fanning became the 22nd Secretary of the Army, the largest service branch of the U.S. military, and the first gay head of any service in the U.S. military.

Life after the politics

In 2017, the Aerospace Industries Association selected Fanning to become its next President and CEO. He began his tenure on January 1, 2018.

LGBTQ Advocacy

Following Senate approval of his 2015 appointment, Fanning thanked his then-boyfriend Ben Masri-Cohen for his “patience at home” during the confirmation process.

Fanning was a member of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund from 2004 to 2007.

In 2016, Fanning served as the grand marshal of the San Diego Pride parade.

Personal life

Fanning and his husband Ben Masri-Cohen were married in 2018, and live together in Washington D.C.