Trump gets his third acting secretary of defense this year

Pentagon Leadership

Defense Secretary nominee Mark Esper testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination in Washington, U.S. July 16, 2019.

"This requires us to modernize our forces and capitalize on rapid technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, directed energy, and hypersonic", he said. Pentagon officials have said Turkey was offered favorable terms to buy a US -made air defense system, the Patriot, but turned it down in favor of the Russian system despite strong USA objections. There has been no Senate-confirmed defense secretary since Jim Mattis left last New Year's Eve. Warren declared Esper unfit for the position after he wouldn't agree to stricter ethics commitments regarding his past lobbying work for defense contractor Raytheon.

"The belief is that the screening process I have in place, all the rules and regulations and laws... are sufficient", he said.

"The American people deserve to know that you're making decisions in our country's best security interests, not in your own financial interests", Warren declared.

"At the age of 18 I went to West Point, and I swore an oath to defend this Constitution, and I embraced a motto called duty and honor and country".

"I went to war for this country".

Esper acknowledged that. "I need to staff up the top tier of the Pentagon soonest", he said. This is a clear echo of concerns earlier expressed by Warren and the late Sen.

Esper said the administration plans to brief lawmakers soon on a plan for working with other countries to more closely monitor commercial shipping in and around the Persian Gulf. "You can't make those commitments to this committee, and that means you should not be confirmed as secretary of Defense".

More news: Kellyanne Conway stands to be held in contempt by House panel

Supporters of Esper, who comes into the job with long-standing relationships with national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, say his 22-day turn as acting defense chief shows an increased willingness to get behind the administration's Iran strategy.

"On the advice of my ethics folks at the Pentagon, the career professionals, no, their recommendation is not to", Esper told Warren at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Esper returned to his Army role after stepping down as acting defence secretary while the Senate weighs his nomination.

Esper will "cease to serve as the acting Secretary of Defense and will become exclusively serving as the Secretary of the Army", the Defense Department's chief of staff, Eric Chewning, told reporters at the Pentagon last week.

Thomas Modly, the undersecretary of the Navy, is now performing the duties of the Secretary of the Navy. "At that time, I will continue to serve as Secretary of the Navy", Spencer wrote in a memorandum issued Monday.

Esper previously committed to such a recusal when he assumed a post as Secretary of the Army.

"Would you be a secretary of Defense with views more aligned with Secretary Mattis or more aligned with President Trump?" the Michigan Democrat asked.

As Army secretary, Esper spent time with the president, traveling with him to an Abrams tank factory in OH and to the southern border amidst the deployment of active duty soldiers there.

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