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Senate Confirms Trump’s Nominee for Army Secretary

Army Secretary Mark Esper / Getty Images
• November 16, 2017 9:58 am

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The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of the Army, retired Army officer Mark Esper.

Esper most recently worked as vice president of government relations for defense contractor Raytheon, Defense News reports.

Esper was confirmed 89-6 on Wednesday after two of Trump's other nominees for the position withdrew their names.

In February, Vincent Viola withdrew his name from consideration for the post, citing strict Defense Department rules concerning his family businesses. He is the founder of digital stock trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers.

In May, Trump’s second nominee — Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green — withdrew his name from consideration after what he called "false and misleading attacks" concerning his past comments on gay rights and evolution.

Esper was nominated over the summer, but his confirmation hearings were delayed by congressional recesses and fighting between Pentagon and Senate officials over communications on policy and operational issues.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, Esper served on active duty for over 10 years before transitioning to the National Guard and Army Reserve. Following his time on active duty, he worked for the Heritage Foundation and on Capitol Hill before serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense during the George W. Bush administration.

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) had kind words on Wednesday for Esper and his fitness for the position.

"We owe our young men and women in uniform leadership that fits their service," McCain said. "I’m confident that (Esper) will provide our Army with that leadership. His record of service in the Army, in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill provides the foundation for the leadership our soldiers deserve."

Esper will take the role as the Army faces questions over its readiness for further military action, a challenge the new Army secretary says is a priority.

"This means recruiting and retaining the best our nation has to offer, ensuring these young men and women are well-trained and well-led, and equipping them with the best weapons and technology available," Esper told senators. "Every unit must be prepared to deploy and accomplish its mission. These are the fundamental (job) duties of the secretary of the Army."