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Dr. Mark Esper Joins McCain Institute as John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow

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The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University has named Dr. Mark Esper, former Secretary of Defense and three-time Wash100 Award recipient, as its inaugural John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow to lead a bipartisan team to assess, discuss and promote policy solutions to the challenges facing U.S. national security decision-makers in the Executive Branch and Congress.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Secretary Esper to the McCain Institute,” said McCain Institute Board of Trustees chair Cindy McCain. “Mark’s deep knowledge and expertise partnered with the convening power of the McCain Institute will produce valuable insights for policy makers on both sides of the aisle and throughout our government.”

With the McCain Institute, Esper will lead discussions focusing on four key principles, including modernizing armed forces, strengthening and expanding alliances and regional relationships, reinvigorating the nation’s soft power globally by supporting diplomatic and development assistance initiatives, and utilizing a whole-of-government approach alongside to counter China. 

During his tenure with the Department of Defense (DoD) Esper worked to overcome challenges posed by the rising economic, military and technological capabilities of the People’s Republic of China and the People’s Liberation Army.

From 2006 to 2007, Esper was the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Defense and International Affairs at Aerospace Industries Association. He was also the national policy director to Senator Fred Thompson for his 2008 presidential campaign, and was a Senate-appointed commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. 

Esper later served as the executive vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center and as vice president for Europe and Eurasian Affairs from 2008 to 2010. Before being nominated as the Secretary of the Army in 2017, Esper was the vice president for Government Relations at Raytheon.

“Any effective approach to the rise of China will need to reflect American values, be bipartisan and have the weight of the entire U.S. government and our allies behind it,” said Esper. “These are hallmark characteristics of Senator McCain, and I look forward to tackling this important work at the McCain Institute.”