President Donald Trump is set to pick Raytheon lobbyist Mark Esper for the position of secretary of the Army and will make an official announcement on the matter later this week.
Trump’s expected announcement will make Esper, a West Point graduate, veteran of the first Gulf War and Raytheon executive, the third candidate for Army secretary after Vincent Viola and Mark Green withdrew from the process.
Pentagon officials told the Washington Examiner they expect the confirmation process will unfold smoothly, as Esper has a background in the Senate, having served as an aide to former Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel and Bill Frist. While working for Frist, he served as director of national security affairs.
Previous nominees, on the other hand, ran into issues, which forced them to withdraw. Vincent Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers, pulled out in February, citing financial ties that would have been burdensome to overcome.
Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green withdrew in May after he was accused of derogatory comments about transgenders.
Esper also worked as deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy from 2002 to 2004, which placed him in charge of issues like arms control, international agreements and nonproliferation.
It’s unlikely that a confirmation hearing for Esper would take place before September. Aside from the fact that the Senate is scheduled for a break in August, Democrats have attempted to stall the confirmation process.
Robert Speer has filled the position of acting Army secretary since January.
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