CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified President Trump’s nominee to become Air Force secretary.
WASHINGTON ― New U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that Congress and the White House are working to fill senior vacancies at the Pentagon.
Five nominees will face Senate hearings in the coming weeks, while eight are undergoing White House vetting, Esper told reporters at an on-camera briefing beside Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We’re making steady progress with Senate confirmations,” Esper said.
Last month, the Senate locked in the Pentagon’s top two leaders for the first time in 2019: Esper, the former Army secretary, and Army Gen. Mark Milley, to succeed Dunford. It also confirmed former comptroller David Norquist as deputy secretary of defense and Vice Adm. Michael Gilday as the next chief of naval operations.
Among the remaining vacant senior positions, the Senate is expected to take up the nomination of Gen. John Hyten to replace Gen. Paul Selva, who retired as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs late last month. The Senate Armed Services Committee advanced Hyten last month, despite a subordinate’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her, which he disputed.
Esper did not name the candidates. However, the White House submitted nominations for Dana Deasy to be chief information officer and for Lisa Hershman to be chief management officer ― a position vacated by John Gibson nearly nine months ago.
Regarding military positions, the Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to hold a hearing for Ryan McCarthy, the undersecretary of the Army and acting secretary to replace Esper. President Donald Trump tapped Barbara Barrett as his pick for Air Force secretary in May, with no official word since.
Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.