Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense

Mark Esper

Secretary of Defense

Mark Thomas Esper was born in April 1964 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy, and received a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He earned a Ph.D. from George Washington University.

Esper was an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division and deployed with them in the Gulf War. After ten years, he transitioned to the District of Columbia Army National Guard and later the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He was chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation for two years, then served as a senior professional staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. He served in the George W. Bush administration as deputy assistant secretary of defense for negotiations policy.

Esper was nominated by President Donald Trump to be the United States Secretary of the Army. He was confirmed by the Senate and took his position in November 2017. In June 2019, President Trump announced his appointment of Esper as Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense. He was later nominated by the president to be the Secretary of Defense, confirmed by the Senate in a 90-8 vote, and assumed his office in July 2019.

He is married to Leah Lacy and they have three children.

In the News…

A fresh drive to strengthen U.S. alliances with “like-minded democracies,” in part through arms sales, was revealed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

He said the Pentagon would systematically monitor and manage its relationships with partner nations, aiming to find ways to coordinate militaries and also to advance U.S. arms sales.

“America’s network of allies and partners provides us an asymmetric advantage our adversaries cannot match,” Secretary Esper said, calling the network “the backbone of the international rules-based order.”

“China and Russia probably have fewer than 10 allies combined,” he added.

He said China uses coercion and financial entrapment to build its alliances with weak countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. “The smaller the nation and the greater its needs, the heavier the pressure from Beijing,” he said.

He underscored the need to build closer ties with “like-minded democracies such as India and Indonesia,” adding, “they all recognize what China is doing.”


Back to top