At his confirmation hearing in the Senate Tuesday, acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon must pay close attention to growing threats - including those presented by nations like China and Russian Federation. "You can't make those commitments to this committee, that means you should not be confirmed as Secretary of Defense".
For much of Esper's confirmation hearing, lawmakers focused on areas where he largely agrees with Mattis, who was widely popular on Capitol Hill, and the administration: the National Defense Strategy's focus on Russian Federation and China, the need for a $750 billion defense budget in fiscal 2020, and finding ways to deescalate tensions with Iran. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a candidate for her party's presidential nomination, pressed Esper to extend and broaden ethics restrictions on dealings with his former employer, which expire in November.
"I apologize you were demonized earlier", Scott said at the end of his questioning, referring to Warren's comments.
There has been no confirmed U.S. defence chief since James Mattis stepped down in December 2018, the longest period in the history of the Pentagon.
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She wrote that she met with Esper last Wednesday, and he indicated that he would not extend his two-year recusal from decisions affecting Raytheon as she had requested.
"While my time in this role is anticipated to be brief, I am fully prepared and committed to serve as Acting Secretary of Defense, and I will provide continuity in the leadership of the department", Spencer said.
Esper's former work with Raytheon is likely to come up at his Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday. Sen.
Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks to reporters on a government aircraft en route to Brussels, Belgium, June 25, 2019.
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But it's believed to be unprecedented for a nominee for Defense secretary to have been a Capitol Hill lobbyist for a defense firm.
Esper also cast himself as closer in temperament to former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who often sought to restrain Trump's national security ideas, than Shanahan, who went along with the White House more readily and labored through several rocky Senate hearings. "Esper I think believes in the strategy and sees it as the right way to go".
"They have been a long standing and very capable North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, but their decision on the S-400 is the wrong one and it is disappointing", said Army Secretary Mark Esper, testifying on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Esper insisted that tensions in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance over Iran and other topics did not come up at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels last month.
Esper took over as acting defense secretary in June when Patrick Shanahan abruptly quit after having served as acting secretary since Mattis departed. He reverted to his previous position of Army secretary.
"Turkey has been a long-standing and very capable North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, but their decision on the S-400 is the wrong one and it's disappointing", he said.
"I agree we do not want war with Iran".
"I thought the Obama administration did a very good job", Esper said, one of several instances where he praised Obama's team.
Mattis quit after a series of policy disputes with Trump, including the president's announcement in December that he would withdraw all USA troops from Syria - a move he never executed.