President Donald Trump is set to tap Raytheon executive Mark Esper to be the next Army secretary, according to several sources.
Esper, who is now Raytheon’s vice president of government relations, would be Trump’s third pick for the Army’s top civilian job after the first two candidates withdrew.
The Washington Examiner first broke the news of Esper’s impending selection.
A Gulf War veteran, Esper is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a 1986 graduate of West Point. He has worked for Raytheon, one of the "big five" defense contractors, since 2010.
Esper has also held senior positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Aerospace Industries Association.
Esper is a veteran of both Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. He has been the policy director for the House Armed Services Committee as well as director of national security affairs for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
He was also a deputy assistant secretary of Defense during the George W. Bush administration and was the national policy director for the late Sen. Fred Thompson’s 2008 presidential bid.
Esper would have to be confirmed by the Senate before heading to the Pentagon. But slow nomination and confirmation processes and a cramped calendar before the Senate’s August recess mean the chamber likely won’t take up his nomination until at least September.
Trump’s first pick for the Army post, billionaire New York financier Vincent Viola, withdrew in February amid difficulty untangling his complex finances. The second pick, Tennessee Republican state Sen. Mark Green, withdrew amid mounting opposition over controversial statements he’d made about LGBT rights and Muslims.
So far, only one of Trump’s service secretary nominees — Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson — has been confirmed.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Navy Secretary nominee Richard Spencer, and the full Senate is expected to act soon.
The White House, the Pentagon and Raytheon did not provide an immediate comment.