Mark Esper, addressed a packed press conference on August 28, 2019 at the Pentagon after the position remained vacant for one year.
What We Know:
- Mark Esper became the 27th Secretary of Defense for the United States on July 23, 2019 by a unanimous vote of 90-8. Prior to that, he served as the Civilian Leader of the US Army for 19 months.
- Mother Jones notes that many positions within the Pentagon lay vacant due to the Trump administration desiring to hire loyalists instead of experienced national security professionals.
- Esper touched on a variety of issues, ranging from the Pentagon’s ongoing effort to refocus on competitors like China and Russia to the U.S.-led operation defending shipping from Iran in the Persian Gulf.
- Esper has approved funding that will go towards building 20 miles of border wall along the U.S border with Mexico. The Defense Department had recently approved $2.5 billion toward more than 100 miles of barrier construction requested by the Department of Homeland Security in the El Paso, Texas and Yuma and Tucson, Arizona areas.
- A month after becoming the Defense Secretary, it was being speculated that Esper may take another $3.6 billion to fund Trump’s border wall. These funds were allocated to fund military construction, housing, maintenance and repairs.
- As of April, the Pentagon has spent $292 million on deployment, with 5,700 troops, including 2,000 members of the national guard.
NEW: Defense Sec. Mark Esper says he will conduct more Pentagon press briefings.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 28, 2019
Many of the members of the Pentagon’s press corporation could be seen taking selfies and pictures of Esper. Esper hopes holding more press conferences will help keep an open dialogue on the Pentagon’s activity.