A Committee of the US Senate has approved the first out gay leader of a US military service.

Eric Fanning was confirmed as the nominee for the Army Secretary by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

It is not clear when the full Senate will take up the nomination by President Obama.

Back in September, the White House nominated Eric Fanning to serve as the US Secretary of the Army.

The nomination of Mr Fanning – already the highest ranking openly gay member of the Department of Defense – is hugely poignant, just six years after out soldiers were welcomed for the first time.

The decision has spent months stalled in the US Congress, with no movement to bring forward a required Confirmation hearing.

The official may have a tough time, however – the Hill reports that Republican lawmaker Pat Roberts is planning to block the appointment to gain leverage over plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

Barack Obama said of Mr Fanning previously:  “Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role.

“I look forward to working with Eric to keep our Army the very best in the world.”

“I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction.