Less than three days after his election debacle, President Donald Trump has sacked his Defence Secretary Mark Esper and named Christopher C. Mills as acting head of the department. Mr Esper had two more months left before the leadership change in the White House. “I am pleased to announce that Christopher C Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” the president twitted on November 9.
Mr Esper is the second defence secretary whose tenure has been cut short abruptly by President Trump after his first choice James Mattis had quit over policy differences. “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” he tweeted. President Trump lost the 2020 elections to Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden in a close fight, but he refused to accept the results claiming election fraud
Mr Esper’s relations with President Trump have been on a downhill over the last few months. According to some media reports, he had recently fought with the president over his suggestion to use military personnel to quell the civic unrest after the killing of an unarmed African-American man by police. He was also reportedly upset over his lack of praise for him. Their relations further worsened after Mr Esper failed to mention at a press conference that on President Trump’s insistence 10 NATO countries have agreed to meet their spending thresholds.
Unlike President Trump’s other cabinet secretaries, who “routinely shift praise for key accomplishments to the president, Mr Esper showed “neutrality”, said a media report. He expected him to do more to “publicly defend him on key issues”, including his rejection of reports that Russia paid “bounties” for killing US troops in Afghanistan, the report said.
Mr Esper had served as army secretary before taking over the reins of the defence department in July 2019. As for President Trump, he only has until January 20, 2021, before he steps down, after which, his successor Joe Biden will take over the baton.
(Sanjeeb Baruah contributed inputs for this article)
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