White House Makes Third Attempt to Nominate Army Secretary

Dr. Mark Esper (Screen grab of U.S. Chamber of Commerce video)
Dr. Mark Esper (Screen grab of U.S. Chamber of Commerce video)

The Trump administration on Wednesday formally nominated a former West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran to become the next secretary of the Army.

The Washington Examiner first reported the story, citing multiple unnamed officials. The White House later announced the nomination -- the administratin's third attempt to nominate a top civilian for the service.

Mark Esper is a retired Army infantry lieutenant colonel who has worked in the defense industry and on Capitol Hill, according to a biographer on the website of his employer, Raytheon Co., the world's largest missile-maker and one of the five biggest U.S. defense contractors.

Esper was a distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served for more than a decade on active duty, including serving in the Gulf War in 1990-1991, according to the bio.

His nomination would follow the withdrawals of two other Trump administration picks for the Army's top civilian job -- businessman Vincent Viola and Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green.

Viola, President Trump's first nominee for Army secretary, withdrew from consideration in February citing his his inability to successfully navigate the confirmation process and Defense Department rules concerning family businesses.

Green, a Republican state senator from Tennessee, withdrew his nomination in May, after coming under fire during the review process for his past unfavorable comments about the LGBTQ community as well as Muslims.

Raytheon appointed Mark Esper as president of government relations in 2010.

Prior to Raytheon, Esper was the executive vice president of the Global Intellectual Property Center and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to his bio.

Previously, he was a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy. Esper also served as the executive vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association and was the chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Esper also served for a number of years on Capitol Hill.

His last assignment was director of National Security Affairs for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Earlier in his career, he was policy director for the House Armed Services Committee and a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Government Affairs Committee, according to the Raytheon bio. In each of those assignments, he was responsible for the national security portfolios. In addition, Esper served as the legislative director and senior policy advisor for Sen. Chuck Hagel.

He earned a master's of public administration degree from the JFK School of Government at Harvard University and a doctorate from The George Washington University.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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