New Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged'

New Defense chief: Our 'priorities remain unchanged'
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New acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper pledged in a departmentwide Monday memo that, despite the sudden shift in power, Pentagon “priorities remain unchanged.”

In his first message to Department of Defense (DOD) personnel since taking on his new role early Monday morning, Esper, the former Army secretary, pointed to the administration’s National Security Strategy as the DOD road map.

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“As we continue to advance the Nation’s security, let me reaffirm our path forward,” Esper wrote in the memo. “The National Security Strategy remains our guiding document, and everything we do should support its stated objectives. The Department’s priorities remain unchanged.”

Esper laid out three main objectives in his letter: building a more lethal force, strengthening alliances and attracting new partners, and reforming internal DOD practices “for greater performance and affordability.”

He also called on top leaders in the building to continue “those values and behavior that represent the best of the military profession and mark the character and integrity of the Armed Forces that the American people admire.”

The White House on Friday night announced that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE intends to nominate Esper to permanently lead the Pentagon after Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE — who had led the Pentagon in an acting capacity since January — on Tuesday withdrew from consideration and announced his resignation after reports emerged about a years-old domestic violence incident.

Esper, a West Point graduate who previously served as a Senate aide and a top executive at Raytheon, joined the Trump administration in 2017. He would be Trump's second permanent Defense secretary if confirmed by the Senate, after James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE.