US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reflects on his service in the US Army, his views on events shaping America’s national security interests globally and his thoughts on running the largest employer in the country.
On his leadership style: “I think it is very important to listen and listen actively, and the other thing that I have emphasized and it seems counterintuitive, but when I took over as Secretary of the Army I said to my folks, ‘I do not believe in consensus. Consensus to me drives suboptimal solutions. What I want to do is when you guys send me courses of action recommendations, I want to hear the minority view.’ And I will tell you there are so many times where there is this one person—just one person—who spoke up in a room and said, ‘Hey, how about this?’ A voice that was maybe muffled in all the other iterations, and it tended to be the best decision.”
On strategy toward China: “What we have been saying is we need to compete with them, and we need to try to pull them back into the international world order—the liberal world order that we established in the wake of World War II—and try and get them on that path. Because we don’t want a conflict with China; what we want to do is we want to see them develop into a normal country.”