Mark Esper, an army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist, was sworn in as the US secretary of defense after receiving Senate confirmation on Tuesday.

Esper’s confirmation, by a vote of 90-8, comes after a seven-month vacancy in the post. He was sworn in hours later at the White House by the supreme court justice Samuel Alito in a ceremony attended by Donald Trump.

“He’s going to be a great one,” Trump predicted at the swearing-in.

Esper will succeed the Marine general Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis. His confirmation ends a record stretch for the Pentagon without a secretary of defense, which began when Mattis stepped down last December after clashing with Trump over the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

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