Mark Esper, left, is sworn in as Secretary of Defense by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, right, as his wife Leah Esper holds the Bible, during a ceremony with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, July 23, 2019.
Mark Esper, left, is sworn in as Secretary of Defense by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, right, as his wife Leah Esper holds the Bible, during a ceremony with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, July 23, 2019.

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration's new Pentagon chief says he aims to ensure a U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf that would deter Iran from threatening to stop or seize any American commercial ship.

Mark Esper, who was sworn in as defense secretary on Tuesday, tells reporters that this arrangement wouldn't mean having an American warship escorting every U.S. commercial ship.
 
As Esper puts it, "to the degree that the risk demands it," the U.S. military will do what it can – by air and by sea – to ensure secure navigation in the Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz.
 
Esper says he'll receive briefings on the Gulf situation, and Iran's recent actions there, during a visit next week to Central Command headquarters in Florida.

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