White House Announces Intent to Nominate Esper for Defense Secretary; Two Other DOD Officials for Top Pentagon Roles

White House Announces Intent to Nominate Esper for Defense Secretary; Two Other DOD Officials for Top Pentagon Roles

The White House announced Friday President Donald Trump’s intent to nominate Army Secretary Mark Esper for Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense David Norquist as Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy as Secretary of the Army.

Earlier in the week Trump had named Esper as acting defense secretary after on Monday he announced that former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan would not continue to pursue his nomination for the Pentagon chief due to personal reasons.

The announcement of the three nominations allowed the administration to informally authorize the officials into their new positions so that they would be in place this week, Military.com reported Friday.

However, if Esper does not quickly receive a formal defense secretary nomination following Trump’s intent announcement, he would be unable to step into the role due to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, according to the report. The law generally does not allow a secretary nominee to fill the roll in acting capacity, which would trigger a line of succession placing Navy Secretary Richard Spencer as acting defense secretary if Trump does not name another formal nominee.

With the Senate’s July schedule a major factor prior to its annual August recess, the Pentagon confirmed it has not yet received Esper’s formal nomination paperwork, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

“As of right now, we don’t have anything official that he’s been nominated yet,” Jessica Maxwell told Military.com. “We’ll have just have to wait for an official nomination to come through,” she said.

Esper has served as Army secretary since 2017 and as a former Army infantry officer during the Iraq War he earned the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

Photo by Lisa Ferdinando

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