With the Army shifting top leadership over the last week following Mark Esper’s departure to go lead the Pentagon, senior officials told reporters Tuesday the service remains set on pushing forward with modernization reform efforts including the imminent release of the service’s five-year spending plan.

Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy, now officially serving as the “senior official performing the duties of the secretary of the Army,” said he has sent a memo to the Army laying out plans for the transition, which includes selecting Jim McPherson, the service’s general counsel, as his number two.

Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy (left) and Chief of Staff Mark Milley hold a press conference at the 2017 Association of the U.S. Army annual expo in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a big transition for the Army, though, this summer with the chief, the vice [chief] and the sergeant major changing over. But the great thing was, as a family, we’ve circled the wagon and really buckled down. We made adjustments to our portfolios and immediate staffs, and put out the word that no policies or priorities are changing,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to stay true to the strategy we put in place, and continue to work through those objectives.”

The president on Friday announced his intent to nominate McCarthy as the next Army secretary, a role he previously held in an acting capacity for four months in 2017 before Esper officially took on the role.

Esper is also set to be nominated as the next defense secretary, following Acting Secretary Pat Shanahan’s departure, and is currently on his way to Brussels to represent the Pentagon at a NATO meeting.

“I think it’s good that the president made his intent to nominate Dr. Esper before his departure, so it clearly sent a signal to our NATO allies that this is the guy,” McCarthy said.

Several other top Army positions are in the midst of a transition, with Gen. Mark Milley, the Army Chief of Staff, set to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vice Chief Gen. James McConville is set to take over for Milley.

“Gen. McConville was instrumental in the modernization strategy, all of the restructuring decisions that were made. And now moving forward for him, as he’s confirmed to be the chief, he will obviously be a champion of that going forward,” McCarthy said.

Amid all the movement, Army leadership is continuing to work with Congress on implementing its plan to shift $33 billion in funding toward modernization priorities over the next five years and readying to release details of its Program Objective Memorandum (POM) soon.

“We’re sending the POM down the hall here. I think it’s imminent,” McCarthy said.

McPherson told reporters that his focus will shift now to assisting McCarthy with implementing top Army priorities including the modernization reform effort. 

“My job as senior official exercising the duties and responsibilities of the under secretary is to assist Secretary McCarthy, and continuing on with our efforts at modernization reform and the major tenants that have been set by the leadership team,” McCarthy said.