The White House sent the Senate the official nomination paperwork Monday afternoon for Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s confirmation hearing Tuesday morning to become the Pentagon’s next top permanent chief, the Defense Department said in a statement.
In an temporary DOD procedural requirement, Esper’s formal nomination prompted a maneuver involving Esper stepping down from his acting defense chief role and returning to his former Army Secretary position, according to the statement.
In order to maintain DOD’s line of succession, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer subsequently assumed the role of acting defense secretary, the statement said.
Spencer arrived in the Defense Secretary’s office soon after the maneuver to begin work as acting Department of Defense chief, according to The Hill.
“While my time in this role is anticipated to be brief, I am fully prepared and committed to serve as acting secretary of defense, and I will provide continuity in the leadership of the department,” Spencer wrote to DOD personnel in a memo.
Spencer’s temporary promotion makes him the third acting DOD chief this year after the last permanent defense chief Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis resigned late last year. Former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan replaced Mattis but in late June pulled his nomination, prompting the White House to name Esper as the new acting Pentagon leader.
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