Who is Mark Esper?
- Mark Esper was the 27th Secretary of Defense
- On November 9, 2020, then president Donald Trump fired him
- Esper later wrote a tell-all memoir of his time as Trump's Defense Secretary
Mark T. Esper was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, on April 26, 1964. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1986 and was commissioned in the Infantry.
After completing Ranger and Pathfinder training, he joined the 101st Airborne Division and served with the "Screaming Eagles" in the 1990-91 Gulf War. Later, in Vicenza, Italy, he commanded a rifle company in the 3-325 Airborne Battalion Combat Team. He left the United States Army in 2007 after 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
Liaison with Trump
On July 23, 2019, Esper was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Defense, a position he held until November 9, 2020. Donald Trump sacked Esper, shaking up the military's leadership at a time when Trump's unwillingness to concede the election has produced a bumpy and perhaps dangerous transition.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter, saying abruptly that Esper had been "terminated."
Esper had received Pentagon approval for his memoir on his time working under President Donald Trump and will drop a lawsuit against the department for not clearing his book manuscript for release in February 2022, his counsel announced Friday.
According to his attorney, Mark Zaid, the former Pentagon chief's book will now be released in May with "minimal redactions."
In 2021, Esper sued the department he commanded after prepublication book reviewers requested redactions to national security concerns in the text.
During his time in the Trump administration, Esper told CBS in an interview broadcast on May 8, 2022 that he helped avoid a series of "dangerous things that could have taken the country in a dark direction."
During the "60 Minutes" interview, Norah O'Donnell of CBS questioned Esper for examples, and he highlighted a plan to "take military action against Venezuela," "strike Iran," and "at one point, somebody proposed we blockade Cuba."
During the programme, O'Donnell mentioned that Ukraine was a "early source of tension" between Esper and then-President Trump.
Esper worked as Chief of Staff at The Heritage Foundation think tank after leaving active military duty, and then as legislative director and senior policy advisor to former Senator Chuck Hagel. He was a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Government Affairs committees, the House Armed Services Committee's policy director, and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's national security advisor. He was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy at the Pentagon during President George W. Bush's administration.
Esper was the Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Defense and International Affairs at Aerospace Industries Association from 2006 to 2007. He served as Senator Fred Thompson's national policy director during his 2008 presidential campaign, and he was a Senate-appointed commissioner on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
From 2008 to 2010, Esper was the Executive Vice President of the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center as well as the Vice President for Europe and Eurasian Affairs. Esper was the Vice President for Government Relations at Raytheon Company before being nominated as Secretary of the Army in 2017.
Esper was awarded the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Among his numerous military honours and accolades are the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal-Saudi Arabia, and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Education and Family
Esper holds a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government as well as a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Washington University. They have three adult children with his wife Leah, whom he has been married to for 30 years.