Donald Trump fires Defence Secretary Mark Esper
- Mark Esper was Trump's fourth Pentagon chief in four years
- Christopher Miller, the current head of the National Counterterrorism Center, will take over as the acting defence secretary
- Miller has served in the military for 31 years, having been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively
United States President Donald Trump on Monday fired Defence Secretary Mark Esper, a move that further destabilises a government trying to come to grips with his defiance of the electoral defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump announced his decision on Twitter, saying, “Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service”.
Christopher Miller, the current head of the National Counterterrorism Center and a former special forces officer, will replace Esper as the acting defence secretary, Trump confirmed.
Esper was Trump’s fourth defence secretary in four years and had served for only 16 months as he tried to keep himself out of the political narrative in his attempt to reshape the Pentagon’s bureaucracy and prepare the American defence around the globe for the rising threat from China, according to AFP.
He drew Trump’s ire by resisting pressure to use federal troops to suppress civil unrest and was not fully committed to Trump’s plans of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan with the country still gripped by violence.
Although the move was expected by many insiders, the timing of the firing comes as a bit of a shock, days after losing his re-election bid to Joe Biden and around 10 weeks before his departure from the White House.
Esper’s successor Miller has spent 31 years in the military, having been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003 respectively with the special forces.
Following his retirement, he became a consultant on clandestine operations and intelligence to the federal government.
He served as the White House advisor on counterterrorism and transnational threats in 2018-19 and was the deputy assistant secretary of defence for special operations. He took over as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in August.