AP

Senate confirms Army veteran Mark Esper Secretary of Defense

Jul 23, 2019, 12:01 PM
defense...
In this July 16, 2019 photo, Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday to be the Secretary of Defense. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It took seven months, but President Donald Trump finally has a Senate-confirmed Secretary of Defense.

Mark Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday by a vote of 90-8. He was to be officially sworn by the end of the day, ending the longest period the Pentagon has gone without a confirmed leader in its history.

The turmoil atop the Pentagon began when Trump’s first defense secretary, Jim Mattis, stepped down last New Year’s Eve after a series of policy disputes with Trump. He offered to stay another two months to get a successor in place, but Trump said no.

Even with Esper now in charge, the problem of leadership instability at the Pentagon is not fully resolved. There still is no Senate-confirmed deputy Secretary of Defense, although David Norquist on Tuesday was nominated for the post and is scheduled to have a confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The senior leadership vacancies increased again last week with the departure of David Trachtenberg, the Pentagon’s second-ranking civilian policy official.

Beyond that, the No. 2-ranking military officer, Gen. Paul Selva, is retiring Friday as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No Senate confirmation hearing has been set for the man picked by Trump to replace Selva: Gen. John Hyten, who has been commander of U.S. nuclear forces as head of U.S. Strategic Command.

A military officer has accused Hyten of sexual misconduct . An investigation found insufficient evidence to charge Hyten, but some members of Congress have raised questions about that process. It’s unclear when or whether Hyten’s nomination will proceed.

At his confirmation hearing on July 16, Esper promised that one of his first priorities would be to fix the problem of leadership vacancies.

“I need to staff up the top tier of the Pentagon soonest,” he said.

Esper had been the Army secretary when Mattis resigned in December. On Jan. 1, the deputy defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, became the acting secretary. But after nearly six months as the fill-in, the former Boeing executive abruptly quit .

Esper then became the acting defense secretary, but once he was nominated last week he had to step aside until after a Senate vote. So, for the past week the Pentagon had been run by yet another fill-in: Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer.

Esper, who has a wide range of experience in defense matters, including time on Capitol Hill as a congressional staff member, has said he intends to continue the Trump administration’s focus on improving the combat preparedness of the military, nurturing security alliances around the world and reforming Pentagon business practices.

AP

FILE - House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., responds to reporters at the Capitol in Wash...
The Associated Press

McCarthy, Trump have ‘positive’ call despite Jan. 6 audio

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy had a positive phone call with then President Donald Trump.
27 days ago
FILE - In this photo  provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Russian missile cruis...
The Associated Press

Sailors’ families seek answers about Russian ship sinking

Families of Russian sailors aboard the Moskva are seeking information about the ship sinking.
27 days ago
President Joe Biden walks to board Air Force One, Thursday, April 21, 2022, at Andrews Air Force Ba...
The Associated Press

Biden announces heavy artillery, other weapons for Ukraine

President Joe Biden announced another $1,3 billion in military aide for Ukraine.
28 days ago
Ukrainian soldiers walk on a destroyed bridge in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on Wednesday, Apr...
The Associated Press

‘Days or hours left’: Russia tightens the noose in Mariupol

Russian forces tighten their grip in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
29 days ago
A wind-driven wildfire burns at the edge of U.S. 89 on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Ariz., on Tuesda...
The Associated Press

Southwest wildfires force evacuations, tighten resources

An Arizona wildfire more than tripled in size on Wednesday as winds pushed flames through a neighborhood near Flagstaff.
29 days ago
Mask mandate...
MICHAEL BALSAMO and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Justice Dept. to appeal order voiding travel mask mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is filing an appeal seeking to overturn a judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs, officials said Wednesday. The notice came minutes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked the Justice Department to appeal the decision handed down […]
29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Senate confirms Army veteran Mark Esper Secretary of Defense