Brenda S. Fulton
Nominee for Assistatant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense
Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton graduated West Point in 1980, in the first class to admit women. She served as a platoon leader, staff officer, and company commander in Germany before her honorable discharge at the rank of Captain. She helped found Knights Out and OutServe, both organizations key in the battle to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Fulton founded and led SPARTA to successfully end the transgender ban, while at the same time providing counsel to Army leaders on removing the combat exclusion rule and integrating women in the combat arms. In 2011, President Obama appointed her as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, and she was later elected Chair (twice). In 2017, she was appointed to the Board of Visitors of the National Defense University.
In 2012, Fulton and Penny Gnesin were the first same-sex couple to wed in West Point’s Cadet Chapel.
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) Roles and Responsibilities
The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) (ASD(M&RA)) is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on all matters relating to military and civilian personnel policies and programs, military community and family policy (including morale, welfare, recreation, and service member and family quality of life); reserve component affairs and integration, and total force planning and requirements.
The ASD(M&RA) leads the Office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and organization of almost an 27,000 personnel, with the mission of developing and overseeing the implementation of policies and programs in support of DOD’s more than 2.1 million active and reserve service members and 742,000 civilian employees. Core policies and programs under the authority, direction, and control of the ASD(M&RA) include:
- The recruitment, retention, training, compensation, recognition, discipline, and separation of all DOD personnel, both military (Active and Reserve Components, and retired) and civilian employees (designated as the DOD Chief Human Capital Officer).
- Promoting quality of life for U.S. military personnel and their families through operation of the Military Family Life Counselor program and the Military Spouse Employment Program.
- Developing policy for and providing oversight of Military Service child care programs; the Family Advocacy Program to prevent and respond to domestic violence and child abuse; and medical and educational programs for Family Members with Special Needs.
- Supervising the Defense Commissary Agency and overseeing the Military Service Exchanges.
- Supervising the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Anti-Christian/Anti-Abortion/Anti-Religious Freedom sentiments:
In a 2011 “Windy City Times” interview, there was this dialogue with the reporter:
WCT: Do you any have thoughts on why America is so far behind other countries in the world in regards to serving openly?
SF: The United States has a powerful right-wing anti-gay, anti-abortion lobby that purports to represent Christians. While their views are shared by only a small minority of Americans, they are very smart at politics and manipulating the media, and wield power out of proportion to their numbers. These radicals—I can’t bring myself to call them Christians, since their language and actions hold no resemblance to the Jesus I know from the Bible—have succeeded in gaining essential veto power over any political action. They demonize their political opponents, then cry “discrimination! bigotry!” when they incur the slightest criticism.
It’s astonishing, really, how much power they have gained, and how they have succeeded in painting a remarkably centrist and even-handed President as some kind of leftist radical. (NOTE: This is regarding Former President Obama)
In a 2017 NYT interview, there was this dialogue with a reporter.
The vice president-elect has a position on what he calls religious liberty, which allows citizens to refuse to do business with people with whom they have a sincere religious objection — but this has also popped up in the military, right? Yes. One estimate indicates that nearly two-thirds of military chaplains identify as evangelistic Christians, and only about 15 percent of service members do. We’ve had a number of instances in which a gay or transgender troop will visit a chaplain and hear, “Well, I can’t talk to you unless you confess your sin and turn straight or be who God made you to be.”
That has happened? Yes! What people fail to understand is that chaplains give up some of their rights as ministers when they become military chaplains, just as soldiers give up some of their free speech to defend free speech. Some chaplains argue: “My first responsibility is to God.” Well, if your responsibility is to God and not the Army, you need to get out of the Army. That sounds cold — of course your first responsibility is to God — but you take on these obligations, and if your responsibility to God doesn’t allow you to fulfill them, you’re in the wrong place.