Defense Secretary Ashton Carter plans to install his chief of staff, Eric Fanning, as acting under secretary of the Army, according to a Pentagon announcement. In that capacity, Fanning would provide outgoing service Secretary John McHugh with "vital support," as McHugh prepares to conclude his tenure.
Fanning, a Carter confidant credited with running the front office at the department's helm, previously served as deputy under secretary of the Navy and acting Air Force secretary. The new Army assignment would enable Fanning to help "lead the men and women of the world's most powerful ground force," Carter said in a statement.
Media reports have suggested that Fanning himself is a candidate to replace McHugh, who has said he wants to retire by November.
The personnel move frees up Brad Carson, who has been dual-hatted as Army under secretary as well as chief of the Defense Department's personnel and readiness branch, to devote all his time to the latter job.