WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – Following an abrupt, but not unexpected firing by President Trump Monday, now former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sent a final message to the Department of Defense.
Esper was the 27th Secretary of Defense, the second (official) under the Trump Administration. His tenure lasted 18 months.
In the letter, Esper said that he is stepping aside “knowing that there is much more we could accomplish together to advance America’s national security,” but is proud of what they have accomplished.
Esper commends the implementation of the National Defense Strategy (NDS), which he says succeeded in “modernizing the force, improving its readiness, strengthening ties with allies and partners, and reforming the Department to make it more efficient.”
He also touted the creation of the Space Force and a “bold vision for a future Navy” as major accomplishments.
Esper said that he is “particularly proud of these accomplishments in light of the challenges we faced
along the way: a global pandemic; confrontations with Iran and its proxies throughout the Middle
East; continued deployment of troops into conflict zones; domestic civil unrest; malign behavior
globally by Russia and China; and a charged political atmosphere here at home.”
Other notable achievements in Esper’s eyes were the “important initiatives to improve diversity, inclusion, and equity in the armed services.”
Following summer riots fueled by racial inequities after the death of George Floyd, Esper issued a memorandum prohibiting the “public display or depiction of flags in the Department of Defense,” in effect banning the Confederate Flag from bases.
Esper has reportedly been working with Congress in his last few months to assist in the process of renaming Army bases named for Confederate figures.
These moves were a widely seen as ones that shook already fragile tensions with the Whitehouse, as President Trump expressed opposition to the renaming of bases.
However, Esper says that his focus has always been on “[putting] People and Country first.”
He thanked those in the Pentagon “for remaining apolitical, for honoring [their] oath to the Constitution,” and encouraged them to “stay focused on [their] mission, remain steadfast in [their]
pursuit of excellence, and always do the right thing.”
In doing so, Esper said that the men and women of the armed forces will “remain the most ready, respected, and capable military force in the world, which is what our Nation expects and deserves.”