Gen. Lloyd Austin Becomes First African American To Be Named US Secretary Of Defense

President-elect Joe Biden announced that retired four-star General Lloyd J. Austin III will be nominated to serve as the new U.S. Secretary of Defense.

With a distinguished record of military service spanning four decades, Secretary-designate Austin is a deeply experienced and highly decorated commander who has served with distinction in several of the Pentagon’s most crucial positions. If confirmed, he will become the first African American ever to hold the position.

Austin’s confirmation depends on the Senate granting him a waiver from a law requiring an active-duty service member to have a gap of seven years before taking the Defense Secretary post. Austin had retired in 2016. A waiver was only granted twice before in U.S. history. The Democratic party does not have majority in the Senate.

Gen. Austin retired from the Army in 2016 following more than 40 years of service. The first African American to serve as Commander of U.S. Central Command, he served as the chief architect of the effort to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and worked closely with Biden when he was Vice President to bring nearly 150,000 American military personnel home from Iraq.

In addition, he was the first African American general officer to command a U.S. Army Division in combat, to lead a Corps in combat, to command an entire theater of war, and to serve as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.

At the Pentagon, General Austin has served as Chief of the Joint Operations, J-3, Joint Staff, and as Director of the Joint Staff. He has commanded troops in combat at multiple-star levels.

Formally introducing Austin as the Defense Secretary-designate at a Wednesday event in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said, “Throughout his lifetime of dedicated service — and in the many hours we’ve spent together in the White House Situation Room and with our troops overseas — General Austin has demonstrated exemplary leadership, character, and command.”

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