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Esper Appointed as U.S. Secretary of Defense

Dr. Mark T. Esper
Dr. Mark T. Esper being sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Defense

By The Maritime Executive 07-23-2019 09:46:58

Following strong, bipartisan confirmation by the U.S. Senate, the U.S. President has appointed Dr. Mark T. Esper to be the 27th Secretary of Defense. 

Esper has been sworn in and has assumed the full authority and responsibility of the Secretary of Defense. He tweeted: “I appreciate the strong, bipartisan support shown by the Senate today with my confirmation vote. Thank you to Chairman @JimInhofe and Ranking Member @SenJackReed for my swift confirmation process. And thank you, @POTUS, for the opportunity to serve.”

Additionally: “Men & women of DOD, I am honored to serve as your 27th Secretary of Defense. Stay focused on your mission, remain steadfast in your pursuit of excellence & always do the right thing. Together we'll remain the most ready & lethal military force our Nation expects & deserves.”

Earlier today, the Senate received the President’s formal nomination of David Norquist to be Deputy Secretary of Defense. In deference to the Senate, Norquist has ceased to perform the duties of the Deputy Secretary of Defense and is solely serving as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer. 

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer has ceased to serve as Acting Secretary of Defense and, as delegated by Esper, is now performing the duties of Deputy Secretary of Defense, in addition to remaining Secretary of the Navy. With Esper’s resignation as Secretary of the Army, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy is now Acting Secretary of the Army.

Biography: Dr. Mark T. Esper 

Esper was born on April 26, 1964, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He is a 1986 graduate of the United States Military Academy and received his commission in the Infantry. Upon completion of Ranger and Pathfinder training, he served in the 101st Airborne Division and participated in the 1990-91 Gulf War with the “Screaming Eagles.” He later commanded a Rifle Company in the 3-325 Airborne Battalion Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2007 after spending 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.

After leaving active duty, he served as Chief of Staff at The Heritage Foundation think tank, followed by service as legislative director and senior policy advisor to former Senator Chuck Hagel. He was a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Government Affairs committees, policy director for the House Armed Services Committee, and national security advisor for former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. During the President George W. Bush administration, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy at the Pentagon.

From 2006-2007, Esper was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Defense and International Affairs at Aerospace Industries Association. He was the national policy director to Senator Fred Thompson for his 2008 presidential campaign, and was a Senate-appointed commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Esper later served concurrently as the Executive Vice President for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center and as Vice President for Europe and Eurasian Affairs from 2008-2010. Before being nominated as the Secretary of the Army in 2017, Esper was the Vice President for Government Relations at the Raytheon Company.

Esper is a recipient of the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Among his many military awards and decorations are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Saudi Arabia, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Esper holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a doctorate in Public Policy from George Washington University. Esper and his wife, Leah, have been married for 30 years and have three adult children.