Trump nominates Mark Esper as Secretary of Defence: White House

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper (above) has been nominated by US President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Defence, the White House said on June 21, 2019.
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper (above) has been nominated by US President Donald Trump to be Secretary of Defence, the White House said on June 21, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - Donald Trump has nominated Mark Esper to be the US Secretary of Defence, the White House said late on Friday (June 21), hours after the President revealed he had come close to authorising a strike on Iran.

Esper takes over as acting defence secretary on Monday following the resignation of Patrick Shanahan, who is stepping down after media reports emerged this week of domestic violence in his family.

Trump, who said on Friday that he aborted a planned military strike on Iran to retaliate against Teheran’s downing of an unmanned US drone, has not had a permanent defence secretary for six months.

James Mattis abruptly quit as defence secretary in December after falling out with Trump over his foreign policies, including surprise decisions to pull troops from Syria and to start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan.

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.

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

All the nominations need confirmation by the US Senate.