Defense Secretary Mark Esper is under fire for the Pentagon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as lawmakers, national security experts and people throughout the Defense Department’s ranks fault him for a slow and uneven approach to the outbreak.
Esper is coming under scrutiny for punting tough choices over how to slow the virus to local commanders, resulting in a hodgepodge of rules driven more by concerns over readiness than the need to contain the virus. Several military officials expressed frustration with a lack of top-down planning and guidance on decisions from buying equipment to social distancing.
These concerns emerge in interviews with five current Defense officials, some with access to Esper, as well as lawmakers, former defense officials and outside experts. Those currently serving spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic.