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Esper Praises Defense Firms for Focus, Dedication

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DoD
Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has taken the rare step of praising the defense industry for its hard work during a time of pressing national needs.

“During these extraordinary times for our Nation and the world, I would like to recognize your focus and dedication to maintaining the United States’ unrivaled defense industrial base,” he says in a May 4 letter.

His remarks came just a day after he warned in a public forum that the military may soon face flat budgets and that he might cut funding for legacy programs so the Pentagon can afford modernization.

In the letter, Esper says he and President Donald Trump are appreciative of how defense industries are continuing to operate during a global pandemic. “We at the Department continue to do everything we can to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic,” he wrote.

Additionally, he said, steps are being taken regarding reimbursement to contractors for payment to workers due to COVID-19 facility closures, and “we have worked to speed up payments to defense contractors, with the expectation that cash will flow to small businesses across the supply chain.”

On May 4 at the Brookings Institution and on May 5 at the Pentagon, Esper warned that big federal spending on coronavirus-related aid could reduce money for defense programs. If that happens, he said he would risk short-term readiness by cutting funding for legacy programs in order to protect modernization.

Read the full letter here: