The incoming Biden administration announced on 8 December that it has selected retired US Army general Lloyd Austin III as its future defense secretary. The announcement follows weeks of speculation and, if approved by Congress, Austin would be the first black US secretary of defense.
“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,” President-elect Joe Biden said in a statement. “He is uniquely qualified to take on the challenges and crises we face in the current moment, and I look forward to once again working closely with him as a trusted partner to lead our military with dignity and resolve, revitalize our alliances in the face of global threats, and ensure the safety and security of the American people.”
Austin spent more than four decades in uniform, including serving as the vice chief of staff of the army, as the Combined Forces Commander in Iraq and Syria, and as the head of US Central Command (USCENTCOM). He retired from service in 2016 before joining the board of directors for Raytheon Technologies. However, US law requires that all Pentagon heads must be out of uniform for seven years before being sworn in to ensure civilian control of the department. Given the timing shortfall, both the House and the Senate are required to approve a waiver before the Senate can confirm Austin to the post.