Rep. Mark Green Applauds Esper as Shanahan Replacement

Patrick Shanahan

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday his pick for defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, has withdrawn, leaving the Pentagon without a permanent boss for more than six months just as tensions soar in the Middle East.

President Trump tweeted Tuesday that Shanahan "has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process so that he can devote more time to his family".

Trump said the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, will be named as the new acting defence secretary.

Unlike Mattis, a laconic former Marine Corps general, Shanahan has been an unabashed Trump supporter, backing the president's efforts to use Pentagon money for a wall at the U.S. -Mexico border over bipartisan congressional opposition and endeavoring to scale back, though not eliminate, the U.S. military presence in Syria.

In a written statement provided to USA Today on Monday night, Shanahan said "it is unfortunate that such a painful and deeply personal family situation from long ago is being dredged up and painted in an incomplete and therefore misleading way as a result of this nomination process". "I wish nothing but the best for her and regret that my children's privacy has been violated and they are being forced to relive a tragic situation that we have worked so hard as a family to put behind us". "Ultimately, their safety and well-being is my highest priority".

The 2010 dispute came to the FBI's attention during a background investigation for Shanahan's anticipated confirmation hearing. In a separate incident, his son attacked his mother with a baseball bat.

"I know Mark, and have no doubt he will do a fantastic job!", Trump tweeted.

Mr Shanahan on Monday announced the deployment of 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East to counter "hostile behaviour" by Iranian forces.

Iranian officials also announced Monday that their Atomic Energy Agency's stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be made to exceed the limits established under the 2015 nuclear treaty within ten days if the pact's European signatories fail to take action to shield Iran from the effects of US sanctions.

"However well-qualified Secretary Esper may be, it is critical that the President nominate, and that the Senate confirm, a permanent Secretary of Defense as quickly as possible".

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has been leading the Pentagon as acting secretary since January 1, a highly unusual arrangement for arguably the most sensitive Cabinet position.

Shanahan did not have prior experience in national security matters before he was picked by then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to be his deputy.

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