With Shanahan's departure, it's the Army's world — and we're just living in it

Analysis
Patrick Shanahan Withdraws From Consideration For Defense Secretary

The day of the Army is upon us.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper will be taking over as Acting Secretary of Defense, President Trump announced on Tuesday, as Patrick Shanahan withdrew his nomination.

The comes just a couple of months after Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley was officially nominated to take over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

An defense official familiar with the matter confirmed to Task & Purpose that Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy will "more than likely" become Acting Army Secretary — his second time in that position.


Esper is a West Point graduate, class of 1986, who completed Ranger training and previously served in the Gulf War with the 101st Airborne Division. He retired in 2007 after serving in the Virginia and D.C. National Guard, and Army Reserve.

Since his confirmation as Army Secretary, Esper has leaned heavily into modernizing the force, and focusing on readiness. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Esper said that his "first priority will be… ensuring the total Army is prepared to fight across the full spectrum of conflict."

He has extensive political experience, having worked as the national security adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Government Affairs Committees, and the policy director for the House Armed Services Committee.

Esper is also a former Raytheon executive, working as a lobbyist for the defense contractor from 2010 to 2017.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which spurred the ethics investigation into Shanahan's Boeing connections after filing a complaint that he, already has their eyes on Esper, saying in a statement on Tuesday that he risks "being tainted by his previous work" for Raytheon.

"While Esper may not have had sway over these types of deals as Secretary of the Army, as acting Secretary of Defense he will have potential influence over such deals, as well as over the controversial proposed merger of Raytheon and UTC to become the second largest defense company in the U.S.," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in the statement. "His ethics agreement—and his ability to follow it—will be something we will be watching closely."

Esper's office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

SEE ALSO: Patrick Shanahan Is Out As Acting Defense Secretary

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Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.

The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.

During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.

"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."

"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."

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Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters photo)

Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.

Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.

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(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

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U.S. Army Rangers resting in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of "Omaha" Beach landings on "D-Day," June 6, 1944. (Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Senior Airman Marlon Xavier Cruz Gonzalez

An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.

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