July 18, 2019

Mark Esper: Nominee for Secretary of Defense


  • Mark Esper has a record of service to his country and a wide range of experiences that have helped prepare him to serve as secretary of defense.
  • A decorated veteran, he served on active duty in the Army for more than a decade, including service in the Gulf War with the 101st Airborne Division, and then served 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
  • The Department of Defense needs a qualified and capable Senate-confirmed leader at its helm.

Mark Esper has served his country for much of his adult life. A West Point graduate, he is a former Army Ranger who saw combat in the Gulf War as a member of the famed 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.”

Esper has had a wide range of professional experiences that have prepared him to be secretary of defense, including service as acting secretary of defense, secretary of the Army, a senior aide on Capitol Hill, and an executive in the private sector.


A Record of service

Mark Esper graduated from the United States Military Academy with a commission in the infantry. He has a master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a doctorate in public policy from George Washington University. After 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, he knows firsthand the sacrifices members of the U.S. military make to serve their country. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal. Esper’s military experience and veteran status will serve him well as he leads the Department of Defense.

On Capitol Hill, Esper worked as a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Governmental Affairs committees; policy director for the House Armed Services Committee; and national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He was deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy during the George W. Bush administration. In the Trump administration he has served as secretary of the Army and acting secretary of defense. As secretary of the Army, he led a comprehensive review of the budget, drove Army modernization, supported defense cooperation with our allies, and managed the largest reorganization of the Army in 45 years.

Esper also has worked as chief of staff at The Heritage Foundation and was vice president for government relations at the Raytheon Company.


During his confirmation hearing, Esper testified on the need to modernize U.S. military forces “and capitalize on rapid technological advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, directed energy, and hypersonics.”

Issue Tag: National Security