Eric Fanning, the nominee of U.S. President Obama to become the next Secretary of the Army, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that reductions in the size of the army may stress the force as it ramps up the fight against Islamic State. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Eric Fanning, the nominee of U.S. President Barack Obama to become the next Secretary of the Army, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at this confirmation hearing that reductions in the size of America's army may stress the force as it ramps up the fight against Islamic State. If confirmed, Fanning would be the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military branch. Fanning previously served as chief of staff to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. "Two years ago, when we targeted 450 (thousand) we didn't have ISIL, we didn't have Russia, as provocative as it is. So, I am concerned. It is preventing us from doing a number of things we want to do to the Army to keep it--, to make it readier, and to keep it whole," Fanning said. Advocacy groups said the nomination of an openly gay man to lead a U.S. service branch was a significant sign of progress in protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals serving in the world's most powerful military. The Pentagon updated its equal opportunity policy in June 2015 to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation, a change in policy which Carter announced at a gay and lesbian pride celebration. That change brought the Pentagon's rules into conformity with the 2011 decision to end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military only if they did not openly acknowledge their sexual orientation. But LGBT individuals face lingering inequalities within the military. Same-sex spouses cannot accompany service members for deployments to many overseas bases, such as those in Gulf countries. The LGBT community is also awaiting the results of a study on the implications of lifting a ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military, the results of which are expected towards the end of this year.