Published: Mon, June 24, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump nominates Mark Esper to be his new defence secretary

Trump nominates Mark Esper to be his new defence secretary

He has also served as a lobbyist for Raytheon, a U.S. Defense contractor that produces weapons and commercial electronics.

Esper comes from a top military pedigree - he graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1986, and served as an infantryman, including during the Gulf War in 1990-91.

Esper is an Army, Pentagon, and Capitol Hill veteran, who is now serving as the Secretary of the Army and previously served as a vice president for government relations at the Raytheon Company.

Trump also nominated David L Norquist to be Deputy Secretary of Defence and Ryan D McCarthy to be Secretary of the army. Esper later served on active duty in Europe and on the Army staff in Washington, D.C., before transitioning to the National Guard and retiring after 21 years of service.

Shanahan, who took over for former Defense Secretary James Mattis in January, left the position on Friday.

Tuesday's move came after acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew from the job before his formal nomination had gone to the Senate, citing a "painful" family situation that would hurt his children and reopen "wounds we have worked years to heal".

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Despite bipartisan criticism in Congress that Trump lacks a Senate-confirmed defense secretary - a concern heightened by the tensions with Iran - Esper is likely to face added scrutiny because of concerns over the vetting of Shananan. However, federal law may force Shanahan to bow out of that post once Trump formally nominates Esper.

Also complicating the matter, Esper can not serve as acting defense secretary while his nomination is open, due to a limitation within the 1998 Federal Vacancies Act.

The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended Shanahan as deputy secretary and the full Senate confirmed him on a 92-7 vote in 2017.

Trump, who said on Friday he aborted a planned military strike on Iran to retaliate for Tehran's downing of an unmanned us drone, has not had a permanent defense secretary for six months.

He said that he had focused on Beijing's growing military might for a long time, even before the Pentagon rolled out a National Defense Strategy in 2018 that prioritized competition with China and Russian Federation over counter-insurgencies in places like Afghanistan.

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