Richard Spencer Named Acting Defense Secretary

Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Army Secretary Mark Esper said at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that the Trump administration continues to pursue a 20-nation maritime coalition in a ramped-up surveillance mission that would aim to "foreclose the opportunity for any miscalculation and misunderstanding" by passive patrolling in the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman "to deter any provocative acts".

The nomination, which was sent to the Senate around 3 p.m., came about 18 hours before Esper's Senate confirmation hearing and sparks a series of personnel moves.

While there appeared to be near-unanimous consent among the senators that Esper would be confirmed to the position, Sen.

"I agree we do not want war with Iran", he said.

"I think the presumption is, for some reason, anybody who comes from the business or the corporate world is corrupt", Esper replied.

Esper went before the committee as the Army secretary, having stepped down as acting defense secretary on Monday under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, which bars an official secretary from succeeding to the permanent post.

US President Donald Trump listens as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks during an expanded bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Cabinet Room of the White House, April 2, 2019, in Washington. "That means you should not be confirmed as secretary of defense".

Some panel members rallied to his defense. Strengthening global alliances and improving performance and accountability at the Pentagon are also key focus areas.

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If confirmed, Mark Esper (in photo) would succeed former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. "You won't commit to recuse yourself", Warren said. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the panel's top Democrat.

"You're a highly qualified candidate, and I'm very disappointed that Sen".

"Good alliances are made of strong, capable partners", Esper said. The department has not had a confirmed secretary since Mattis resigned in December.

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced last week that it would expedite the process to hold a confirmation hearing despite only receiving Esper's formal nomination from the White House on Monday.

The gap in permanent leadership was more acute as tensions rose with Iran and Trump flirted with a military strike against the country last month. Warren noted that his ethics agreement allows Esper to receive a waiver to deal with issues that could directly affect Raytheon's bottom line if the matter is "so important that it cannot be referred to another official".

"The US Government is taking a regional approach to the conflict, noting the importance of garnering support from neighbours like Pakistan, while deterring other regional actors, such as Russian Federation and Iran, from serving as spoilers to the peace process", he added. She also pressed Esper to commit to never seek a waiver from his recusal and not seek defense industry employment for four years after leaving government, which he declined to do.

Esper said he would advocate for the Department of Defense to maintain the right set of tools and authorities to maintain decision space and flexibility in America's policy approach, in order to maintain a "bridge back" for Pakistan. That falls short of a full recusal called for by Warren.

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