Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had authorized $1 billion to build part of the wall sought by President Donald Trump along the US-Mexico border.
The Pentagon said there were 6,053 reports of sexual assaults last year, according to an anonymous, bi-annual survey. It is a record number and the highest since the US military began collecting this kind of survey data in 2004.
The meeting in Riyadh, where Esper arrived late on Monday after an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, also took in defence issues and the current situation in the region.
A senior Pentagon official who oversees US defence policy on Ukraine and Russia testified privately on Wednesday in the Democratic-led US House of Representatives inquiry against Republican President Donald Trump.
The United States announced the deployment of additional American military forces to Saudi Arabia on Friday to bolster the kingdom’s defences after the Sept.14 attack on its oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh have blamed on Iran.
Esper said that the numbers could fluctuate, particularly if European allies strengthen their presence in the country. Trump's abrupt announcement last month that he had ordered a full troop withdrawal drew angry rebukes at home and abroad.