WASHINGTON―Mark Esper was formally nominated to the position of defense secretary by the White House on Monday, a role he has been carrying out in an acting capacity since last month.
There has been no confirmed defense secretary since Jim Mattis resigned in December, the longest period in Pentagon history. The nomination set off a temporary, but complicated, series of changes for Pentagon leadership.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that by law when Esper was nominated on Monday, he stopped serving as acting defense secretary and reverted to his previous job, which was Army secretary.
Until Esper is confirmed, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will serve as acting defense secretary.
The nomination of Mark Esper to be the next secretary of Defense has now arrived in the Senate pic.twitter.com/xNNayvAKHU
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) July 15, 2019
Statement by Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman on the nomination of Dr. Esper to be secretary of defense:
At 3:04 p.m. today, the Senate received the president’s formal nomination of Dr. Mark T. Esper to be secretary of defense. At that time, Esper ceased to serve as acting secretary of defense and is solely serving as secretary of the Army. As a result, as prescribed in Executive Order 13533, “Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Defense,” March 1, 2010, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer became acting secretary of defense. As such, Secretary Spencer has the full authority and responsibility of the secretary of defense. The senior team supporting the Office of the Secretary remains in place to ensure institutional continuity. Notably, this includes David Norquist, the under secretary of defense (comptroller)/chief financial officer, who continues to perform the duties of the deputy secretary of defense; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr.; and Eric Chewning, the chief of staff to the secretary of defense. Additionally, Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly is now performing the duties of the secretary of the Navy. Ryan McCarthy is no longer performing the duties of the secretary of the Army and is solely serving as under secretary of the Army.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) July 15, 2019
by Idrees Ali