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Defense Secretary Mark Esper Selected to 2020 Wash100 for Leading National Defense Strategy, Reform Initiatives

Jeff Brody
Mark Esper

Executive Mosaic is honored to present Mark Esper, secretary of the Department of Defense, as an inductee into the 2020 edition of the Wash100 for his commitment to implementing the National Defense Strategy and advancing cost-saving measures through reform.

This marks Esper’s third consecutive Wash100 Award. His efforts to modernize the Army’s technology and his ability to prioritize specific projects while maintaining high standards earned Esper his last Wash100 Award. His continued success and drive led to an even greater year leading to his most recent Wash100 Award.

Esper started the year with the release of a memo detailing his 2020 priorities, including reforming the operations of military departments to better address the goals of the National Defense Strategy.

“In short, I expect leaders across the department to approach reform as an opportunity to support the strategy, rather than as a tax that can be avoided,” Esper said. “To achieve full, irreversible implementation of the NDS, we must accomplish a mindset shift where leaders think critically about the optimal application of every dollar in their respective budgets to advance the strategy.”

Late last year, he said at the Reagan National Defense Forum that the department achieved up to $5 billion in savings over the past four months as part of the zero-based budget review process, which seeks to align spending with the National Defense Strategy.

Under his leadership, the Pentagon established the U.S. Space Force as the sixth military branch. The move came after President Trump signed the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act in December.

Esper said the Space Force will address emerging threats in a space environment and ensure the country’s capacity to “deter aggression, defend our national interests and outpace potential adversaries.”

Esper has announced several initiatives at DoD since he officially took office, including the Pentagon’s plan to fully pursue the development of ground-launched conventional missiles following the country’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the creation of a task force to address the issue of contamination from firefighting foam at over 400 military facilities.

As acting defense secretary, he renamed the Defense Security Service as the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency to handle background investigations for all federal entities and manage insider threat programs, continuous vetting and other functions under the National Industrial Security Program.

The Senate confirmed Esper as the next DoD secretary in July 2019. Prior to assuming his current post, he was asked about his priorities once confirmed and one of the plans he mentioned is reforming the Fourth Estate agencies to help DoD save up to $46 billion. He also cited artificial intelligence as his top modernization priority.

“Different people put different things as number one, for me it is AI,” Esper told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing. “It will likely change the character of warfare. We will reform the department, beginning with the Fourth Estate.”

Prior to his current role, Esper served as secretary of the Army. Under his leadership, the service established Army Futures Command. In a June 2019 interview, he offered updates on AFC’s efforts to meet the Army’s six modernization priorities.

In his time with the Army, he called on U.S. allies to increase investments in AI, directed energy, hypersonics and other modern warfare technologies and acknowledged the role of industry in the service’s network modernization effort.

Executive Mosaic congratulates the DoD and Mark Esper for his 2020 Wash100 Award selection.

About Wash100 

The Wash100 Award, now in its seventh year, recognizes the most influential executives in the GovCon industry as selected by the Executive Mosaic team in tandem with online nominations from the GovCon community. Representing the best of the private and public sector, the winners demonstrate superior leadership, innovation, reliability, achievement and vision.

Visit the Wash100 site to learn about the other 99 winners of the 2020 Wash100 Award. On the site, you can submit your 10 votes for the GovCon executives of consequence that you believe will have the most significant impact in 2020.

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