AP National Security Writer
SIMI VALLEY (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday he still plans to shift the American military's focus to competing with China and Russia, even as security threats pile up in the Middle East.
Esper outlined his strategic goals and priorities in a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of government, defense industry and military officials.
Esper, who became Pentagon chief in late July, said he is sticking to the national defense priorities set by his predecessor, Jim Mattis, who was sitting in his audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Since Mattis resigned one year ago in protest of President Donald Trump's push to withdraw from Syria, the Middle East has become even more volatile. At leas