New SECDEF makes Wright-Patterson AFB his first Air Force stop

  • Published
  • By John Van Winkle
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Dr. Mark T. Esper chose Wright-Patterson AFB as his first Air Force base to visit as Secretary of Defense, Oct. 3-4.

The new Secretary of Defense engaged Airmen and commanders during a whirlwind visit, including discussions with Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., commander of Air Force Materiel Command, and visits to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and National Museum of the U.S. Air Force here.

“I’ve had a great 24 hours here at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, my first visit ever, and my first visit to an Air Force Base as Secretary of Defense. I appreciate the opportunity,” said the Secretary.

“I had a chance to do physical training with the Airmen this morning. Then I had a great visit to NASIC and a good conversation with Gen. Bunch with regard to what Air Force Materiel Command does, so it’s really helped enlighten me to what it does (and) the integral role all the functions here play with regards to advancing our National Defense Strategy. It’s all the more evident to me today than it was 24 hours ago. I’ve had a great visit.”

Dr. Esper was invited to visit Wright-Patt by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and House Armed Services Committee. Turner joined the Secretary and Bunch for a tour of NASIC and briefings on the center’s air, space and cyber analysis capabilities.

Bunch said it was an honor for the men and women of the base to host the Secretary and “share first-hand what they do each and every day to defend America.”

The Secretary also hosted a closed door town hall session, taking candid questions from base Airmen and their spouses on a wide range of topics, at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Kenney Hall. 

“He and Mrs. Esper expressed their heartfelt appreciation for the service of our Airmen, both uniformed and civilian, their families, and for their contributions to the Air Force in support of the National Defense Strategy,” Bunch said.

The Secretary is no stranger to military life. A 1986 West Point graduate, Esper received his commission in the Infantry. He was a Ranger and earned his Combat Infantryman Badge with the 101st Airborne Division during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. He retired from the Army in 2007 after spending 10 years on active duty and another 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a doctorate in Public Policy from George Washington University.

Following his military retirement, he served in a variety of policy and government positions. He was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Defense July 23, 2019. He was previously Secretary of the Army before serving as Acting Secretary of Defense from June 24 to July 15, 2019.