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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
An investigation is underway after an Army recruiting company commander in Houston, Texas, issued a memo that included a phrase used by Nazis and displayed in death camps during World War II, "Arbeit Macht Frei," which roughly translates to "work sets you free."
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A woman has filed a civil suit against a former member of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, saying she has suffered emotional distress and "a diminished capacity to enjoy life" in the years since he used a hidden camera at Barnes Air National Guard Base to record explicit images of her.
Former Tech Sgt. Jason Venne, 37, pleaded guilty in February to six counts of photographing an unsuspecting person in the nude and seven counts of unlawful wiretap. He admitted putting a camera in the women's locker room at the Westfield base, recording images and video between 2011 and 2013 when he worked there as a mechanic.
Five people have been indicted in federal court in the Western District of Texas on charges of participating in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from benefits reserved for military members, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.
As the military services each roll out new policies regarding hemp-derived products like cannabidiol, or CBD, the Defense Department is not mincing words.
"It's completely forbidden for use by any service member in any of the services at this point of time," said Patricia Deuster, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
The warning, along with the policies issued recently by the Air Force, Coast Guard and Department of the Navy, comes as CBD is becoming increasingly ubiquitous across the country in many forms, from coffee additives and vaping liquids to tinctures, candies and other foods, carrying promises of health benefits ranging from pain and anxiety relief to sleeping aids and inflammation reduction.
The Navy has fired five senior leaders so far in August – and the month isn't even over.
While the sea service is famous for instilling in officers that they are responsible for any wrongdoing by their sailors – whether they are aware of the infractions or not – the recent rash of firings is a lot, even for the Navy.
A Navy spokesman said there is no connection between any of the five officers relieved of command, adding that each relief is looked at separately.