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Former Defense Secretary Esper to join investment firm Red Cell

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper gives remarks during the 19th annual September 11 observance ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

(Reuters) – Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper will join Red Cell Partners as partner and chairman of the national security practice, the investment firm said on Wednesday.

Esper, who served as Trump’s defense chief from June 2019 to November 2020, will lead businesses in the areas of defense, cyber security, international affairs, space and aerospace, Red Cell said in a statement.

The company, founded in 2020, backs technology-led companies in the healthcare and defense sectors.

The appointment of Esper, who was fired as defense secretary over a range of differences on policy issues, comes a month after U.S. President Joe Biden sought a record peacetime national defense budget of $813 billion, including the largest research and development budget in history.

The fiscal budget has earmarked $130 billion to develop new weaponry like hypersonic missiles to fight any potential future wars against China and Russia.

“I believe the key to accelerating and expanding the U.S. military’s overmatch in the years ahead is through the rapid, sustained, and aggressive modernization of the joint force,” Esper said in the statement.

Beverly Hills-based Red Cell was co-founded by healthcare and defense technology entrepreneur Grant Verstandig, investment management veteran Josh Lobel and venture capitalist and defense entrepreneur John Tenet.

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