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US finally gets a new Pentagon chief as Senate confirms Mark Esper

US finally gets a new Pentagon chief as Senate confirms Mark Esper

Hussain Saeed

President Donald Trump’s second Defense Department chief will take over nearly seven months after the shock departure of Jim Mattis, the deeply respected career US Marine who broke with Trump over policy towards the Middle East and Afghanistan.

FILE – In this June 26, 2019 file photo, Acting U.S. Secretary for Defense Mark Esper speaks during a press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg prior to a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Esper, an Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, won Senate confirmation Tuesday to be the Secretary of Defense. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

Two others were made acting defense secretary this year to fill the void — including Patrick Shanahan, who served a six-month temporary stint but resigned for family reasons in June and withdrew from consideration for the full-time top post.Esper sailed through the confirmation process in lightning speed. He earned broad bipartisan support and was confirmed by a vote of 90 to 8.

He is expected to take his oath of office later on Tuesday, according to the Pentagon.

Esper’s confirmation brings ballast to a Pentagon destabilised by the leadership revolving door since late December, and as the world’s primary military power is engaged in two wars — in Syria and Afghanistan — and being tested by Tehran.