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Richard Spencer becomes acting defense secretary while Mark Esper goes through Senate confirmation
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
"The senior team supporting the Office of the Secretary remains in place to ensure institutional continuity," Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement on Monday. "Notably, this includes David Norquist, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, who continues to perform the duties of the Deputy Secretary of Defense; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford; and Eric Chewning, the Chief of Staff for the Department of Defense.
"Additionally, Thomas Modly, Under Secretary of the Navy, is now performing the duties of the Secretary of the Navy. Ryan McCarthy is no longer performing the duties of the Secretary of the Army and is solely serving as Under Secretary of the Army."
Esper had been serving as acting defense secretary since June 24, but the Federal Vacancies Reform Act prevents him from continuing in an acting role once the Senate has received his nomination. For the time-being, he has reverted back to his old job as Army secretary.
On Monday, Spencer walked into the defense' secretary's E-Ring office on the Pentagon's third floor on Monday.
"Ladies and gentleman, how are we doing today?" Spencer asked reporters on the scene.
Before becoming Navy secretary on Aug. 3, 2017, Spencer served as an CH-46 helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps from 1976 until 1981, leaving the Corps as a captain, officials said.
During his tenure leading the Navy, Spencer denied claims from people claiming they were exposed to dangerous chemicals found in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, following a federal judge's December 2016 ruling that the Navy was not liable for damages.
Spencer has also staked his job on fixing the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford's electromagnetic weapons elevators. In January, Spencer told President Donald Trump that if all 11 of the Ford's elevators were not working by the end of the summer, Trump could fire him.
Only two of the Ford's weapons elevators are currently functional, said Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez. Work on the other nine elevators is expected to last beyond October, when the aircraft carrier leaves the shipyards.
Esper's confirmation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. He replaced Patrick Shanahan as acting defense secretary after Shanahan withdrew from consideration as defense secretary amid media reports that he and his son had both been involved in violent altercations with his former wife.
Shanahan had served as acting defense secretary after Mattis resigned in December in protest of Trump's decision at the time to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria. Trump subsequently reversed himself.
SEE ALSO: The Pentagon's path to getting Mark Esper confirmed as defense secretary is a Kafkaesque nightmare
WATCH NEXT: Navy Secretary Inspects USS Gerald R. Ford Weapons Elevator
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.