An announcement that is likely to be made on Friday, President-Elect has nominated retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin to be secretary of defense, making him the first Black leader of the Pentagon, when confirmed.
According to sources close to the matter, Joe Biden has nominated retired Army General Llyod Austin for one of the most crucial Departmental head posts- the Secretary of Defense. According to a source, unnamed by Politico, Biden reached out to Austin over the weekend to offer the job, and he accepted.
The secretary of defense is in control of the nation’s largest government agency, commanding troops around the world and the complicated internal workings of the Pentagon that make it one of the world’s most powerful bureaucracies. It has been reported that Biden selected Austin over the longtime front-runner candidate, Michele Flournoy, a former senior Pentagon official and Biden supporter who would have been the first woman to serve as defense secretary. It is being claimed that Biden picked Austin despite the fact that he was not the first choice among influential members of his own party on Capitol Hill.
To be confirmed, Austin would need to obtain a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary. As a career military officer, Austin is likely to face opposition from some in Congress, especially since most lawmakers believe that there must be a clear line between civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon, especially when it comes to handling the defense portfolio. In previous instances, the waiver has been granted only twice, most recently in the case of Mattis, the retired Marine general who served as President Donald Trump’s first Pentagon chief.
Austin is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served as commander in Baghdad of the Multinational Corps-Iraq in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, and he returned to lead U.S. troops from 2010 through 2011. Austin also served in 2012 as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, the service’s No. 2-ranking position. A year later he assumed command of U.S. Central Command, where he implemented a U.S. military strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.