WASHINGTON, DC – Dr. Mark Esper has joined CNN’s news network as a Global Affairs Analyst and Political Commentator. Esper served as Secretary of Defense during the Trump administration from July 2019 to November 2020 and is currently a partner and board member at the venture capital firm Red Cell Partners.
During his time as Secretary of Defense, Esper led the department during conflict with Iran, an ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East and open competition with China and Russia amidst a fundamental shift in geo-strategic environment. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Esper co-led Operation Warp Speed, the national effort to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines.
President Donald Trump fired Esper in November 2020 following disagreements with the President after just 15 months in the position.
Prior to becoming Defense Secretary, Esper served as the 23rd Secretary of the Army from November 2017 until June 2019. In this capacity, he was responsible for over 1.5 million active, guard, and reserve soldiers and army civilians. Esper was an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division during the 1990-91 Gulf War, and later commanded an airborne rifle company in Europe as part of the NATO readiness task force. Among his many military awards, he earned a Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Esper retired from the Army in 2007, after 10 years on active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve.
After leaving active duty, Esper worked in senior national security positions across Capitol Hill, as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, in a presidential campaign, and with prominent think tanks and business associations. He was also a Senate-appointed commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Esper currently serves on several private capital and public policy boards and works as a corporate consultant. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir A Sacred Oath: Memoirs Of A Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times. He earned a BS from West Point, an MPA from Harvard University, and a PhD from George Washington University.