Dr. Mark T. Esper

27th United States Secretary of Defense

Dr. Mark T. Esper became the nation’s 27th Secretary of Defense in July 2019 after a 90-8 Senate confirmation.  During his tenure, Esper led the department through unprecedented times: from conflict with Iran and an ongoing campaign in Afghanistan; to the greatest civil unrest in decades and a once-in-a-century global pandemic. He also implemented a new National Defense Strategy focused on China and Russia; prioritized international alliances and strengthening U.S. military capabilities; established the Space Force; took measures to improve the nation’s cyber capabilities; proposed a future force structure for the U.S. Navy; and launched novel warfighting and readiness concepts. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Esper took steps to protect the health and safety of DoD personnel and co-led Operation Warp Speed, the national effort to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines.  

Dr. Esper earned a BS from West Point, an MPA from Harvard University, and a PhD from George Washington University. He served as an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division during the 1990-91 Gulf War, and commanded an airborne rifle company in Europe, later retiring from the U.S. Army reserves after twenty-one years of military service.  Dr. Esper also worked in senior national security positions across Capitol Hill, as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, in a presidential campaign, and with prominent think tanks, commissions, and business associations. He later served as a senior executive at Raytheon Company. In 2017, Esper became Secretary of the Army, launching a renaissance that led to sweeping changes in the service.  After leaving office in late 2020, Esper authored his NYT bestselling memoir, “A Sacred Oath.”  He currently works in venture capital and private equity, serves on public policy boards, consults for several prominent companies, and is a CNN contributor.


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