- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2019

President Trump on Friday night said he’ll formally nominate Mark T. Esper for defense secretary, moving quickly to name a permanent Pentagon chief as military tensions with Iran escalate.

Mr. Esper, a former Raytheon executive who had served as secretary of the Army since November 2017, was tapped by Mr. Trump earlier this week to serve in a temporary capacity following acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s sudden withdrawal from the confirmation process.

Mr. Shanahan stepped down amid an FBI background check that reportedly focused in part on years-old domestic disputes involving his family.

Mr. Esper is due to take over at the Pentagon in an acting role early next week.

Mr. Trump’s announcement on Friday night suggests that the White House will move quickly to install him in a permanent capacity — something lawmakers have demanded after Mr. Shanahan’s nomination process dragged on for months. Top lawmakers have said that an acting defense secretary lacks gravitas on the world stage.

Clarity on the position is especially important given the growing military tensions between the U.S. and Iran, lawmakers have said.

Mr. Esper, a 55-year-old father of three, previously served in the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy.

Before becoming secretary of the Army in November 2017, he spent seven years as vice president for government relations at Raytheon, one of the nation’s top defense contractors. Mr. Esper also served in a variety of roles on Capitol Hill, including national security adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and policy director for the House Armed Services Committee.

He’s also worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, the Aerospace Industries Association and he conservative Heritage Foundation.Mr. Trump on Friday night also said he’ll nominate David Norquist, currently serving as the Pentagon comptroller, to be deputy secretary of defense.

Ryan D. McCarthy, now serving as under secretary of the Army, will be nominated to take Mr. Esper’s place as Army secretary, the president said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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