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Mattis Close to Recommending New Choice for Army Secretary

Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer speaks on June 14 during a celebration of the Army's birthday at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. Speer is a former assistant secretary of the Army for financial management. (US Army photo/Trevor Wiegel)
Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer speaks on June 14 during a celebration of the Army's birthday at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. Speer is a former assistant secretary of the Army for financial management. (US Army photo/Trevor Wiegel)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday he's close to making his third try at getting a new Army secretary nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate.

In a session with Pentagon reporters, Mattis said he has more than one person in mind and will soon be making a recommendation to President Donald Trump.

"I don't like to get out in front of the president. That's up to the president," Mattis said, but "we do have, let me say, plural candidates, and I'd rather let that one be announced by the president and the clerk of the Senate, rather than getting out in front of them."

He gave no other details, other than to say, "We've done our due diligence" in trying to get a successor to Eric Fanning nominated and confirmed as Army secretary.

The Army remains the only military service without a secretary or a nominee for the position.

Former Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, has been confirmed by the Senate as Air Force secretary.

Earlier this week, Richard V. Spencer, an investment banker and former Marine aviator, had his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to become the next Navy secretary.

Two previous nominees for Army secretary withdrew their names from consideration.

Wall Street financier Vincent Viola withdrew his name in February over concerns about divesting his market holdings. Mark Green, a Republican state senator in Tennessee, withdrew his name over controversial past remarks on LGBT issues, evolution and Islam.

In the interim, Robert M. Speer, a former assistant secretary of the Army for financial management, has been serving as acting Army secretary.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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