New Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged'

New acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper pledged in a departmentwide Monday memo that, despite the sudden shift in power, Pentagon “priorities remain unchanged.”

In his first message to Department of Defense (DOD) personnel since taking on his new role early Monday morning, Esper, the former Army secretary, pointed to the administration’s National Security Strategy as the DOD road map.

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“As we continue to advance the Nation’s security, let me reaffirm our path forward,” Esper wrote in the memo. “The National Security Strategy remains our guiding document, and everything we do should support its stated objectives. The Department’s priorities remain unchanged.”

Esper laid out three main objectives in his letter: building a more lethal force, strengthening alliances and attracting new partners, and reforming internal DOD practices “for greater performance and affordability.”

He also called on top leaders in the building to continue “those values and behavior that represent the best of the military profession and mark the character and integrity of the Armed Forces that the American people admire.”

The White House on Friday night announced that President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says ‘stubborn child’ Fed ‘blew it’ by not cutting rates MORE intends to nominate Esper to permanently lead the Pentagon after Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Trump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Trump says he intends to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon MORE — who had led the Pentagon in an acting capacity since January — on Tuesday withdrew from consideration and announced his resignation after reports emerged about a years-old domestic violence incident.

Esper, a West Point graduate who previously served as a Senate aide and a top executive at Raytheon, joined the Trump administration in 2017. He would be Trump’s second permanent Defense secretary if confirmed by the Senate, after James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Trump says he intends to nominate Esper to lead Pentagon Trump expected to nominate Esper as Defense chief MORE.

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