Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

Trump plans to nominate Mark Esper to be Pentagon chief -White House

Trump to nominate Mark Esper to be next defense secretary Trump plans to nominate Mark Esper to be Pentagon chief: White House
Patty Aguilar | 24 June, 2019, 06:28

Incoming Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper greets Outgoing Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, as Shanahan is honored during a Clap Out farewell ceremony by Pentagon employees gathered on the steps on his last day at the Pentagon on June 21, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia.

"I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!", the president wrote.

Trump said he also plans to nominate David Norquist, who now serves as the Pentagon's comptroller, to be deputy defense secretary, and Ryan McCarthy, who is undersecretary of the Army, to be secretary of the Army.

"This is a particularly fraught time for there to be not only an acting but an acting-acting", Democratic Senator Chris Coons told political news outlet Roll Call.

Esper served in the first Gulf War, worked as an aide on Capitol Hill, and spent seven years as vice-president for government relations at defence contractor Raytheon.

Despite being better known as a China and Russian Federation hawk, expect Esper to be highly influenced by the Iran hawks in Trump's inner circle-Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, whom he has strong personal relationships with.

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

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With the Yankees, he's appeared in seven games, posting a 2-0 record and a 4.09 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 22 innings. Tampa Bay, becoming just the 14th pitcher in Baseball history to record 3,000 strikeouts and 250 career wins.

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Esper's confirmation could face legal problems as a federal law, known as the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA), prevents someone nominated for a secretary position from serving in an acting secretary post.

But it will be a significant shift to move from being the Army's civilian chief tasked with manpower and procurement issues to devising overall defense policy for the world's most powerful military. He is scheduled to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers meeting in Brussels next week.

The meeting comes as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation grapples with a dispute between alliance members the United States and Turkey over Ankara's decision to purchase a Russian air defence system. The US has threatened sanctions if Turkey goes ahead with the deal.

The US Senate needs to confirm his nomination before Esper can be sworn in as the Defence Secretary.

But Democrats and government watchdog groups say they will be listening carefully to his testimony for any red flags.

"After months of an acting SecDef, sound & strong leadership at the Pentagon is critical".

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