Eric K. Fanning has been secretary of the Army since May. He previously served as acting secretary, acting undersecretary and chief management officer of the Army; chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter; undersecretary and chief management officer and acting secretary of the Air Force; deputy undersecretary of the Navy/deputy chief management officer; and deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism. He has also worked at strategic communication firms and a think tank; on the national and foreign assignment desks for CBS News; and in various political positions including with the House Armed Services Committee and the White House. He has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, N.H.
General Ham is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of the United States Army. He is an experienced leader who has led at every level from platoon to geographic combatant command. He is also a member of a very small group of Army senior leaders who have risen from private to four-star general.
General Ham served as an enlisted infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division before attending John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. Graduating in 1976 as a distinguished military graduate, his service has taken him to Italy, Germany, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Qatar, Iraq and, uniquely among Army leaders, to over 40 African countries in addition to a number of diverse assignments within the United States.
He commanded the First Infantry Division, the legendary Big Red One, before assuming duties as director for operations on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon where he oversaw all global operations. His first four-star command was as commanding general, U.S. Army Europe. Then in 2011, he became just the second commander of United States Africa Command where he led all U.S. military activities on the African continent ranging from combat operations in Libya to hostage rescue operations in Somalia as well as training and security assistance activities across 54 complex and diverse African nations.
General Ham retired in June of 2013 after nearly 38 years of service. Immediately prior to joining the staff at AUSA, he served as the chairman of the National Commission on the Future of the Army, an eight-member panel tasked by the Congress with making recommendations on the size, force structure and capabilities of the Total Army.
He resides with his wife, Christi, in Arlington, Virginia.