Washington: US President Trump fired defence secretary Mark Esper and announced Christopher C Mills, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting head of the defence department.
Esper was Trump’s second defence secretary.
The first, James Mattis, had resigned over policy differences with the president about troops in Syria.
“I am pleased to announce that Christopher C Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” president said on twitter.
“Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”
Esper had only two months, as does Trump who lost the election to Joe Biden, the president-elect.
Esper’s firing further destabilises a government already navigating Trump’s refusal to concede election defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
Esper had clashed with Trump over his suggestion of using military personnel to quash civic unrest.
Trump, who is pursuing so far flimsy claims of election fraud in the courts, has only until January 20 before he has to leave office and Biden takes over.