June 27, 2019

Trump’s Latest Acting Pentagon Chief Faces Immediate Stress Test

Featuring Jim Townsend

Source: The New York Times

Journalist Thomas Gibbons-Neff

It has been a taxing week for Mark T. Esper, the acting defense secretary, who did not have that title just a few days ago.

Last Thursday, Mr. Esper, 55, was still Army secretary, sitting in the White House as officials weighed launching airstrikes against Iran. Four days later he assumed the role of Pentagon chief to fill a sudden leadership void from the departure of Patrick M. Shanahan after just four months.

And on Wednesday Mr. Esper took the stage at NATO headquarters in Brussels, wedged between what could be a looming conflict in the Middle East and convincing America’s top allies that he was the right person for the job.

Mr. Esper’s opening statement during a news briefing Thursday tried to do just that, ensuring that nothing has changed at the Pentagon — despite his seemingly overnight ascension. He implored allies to take a harder stance on Iran after a spate of incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, including the downing of an American drone by Iranian forces.

Read the full article and more in The New York Times.


  • Jim Townsend

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European ...