Biden Says He Plans to Nominate Austin
WASHINGTON–President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to nominate retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to be his defense secretary, Mr. Biden wrote in an essay in The Atlantic on Tuesday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Austin — the former head of U.S. Central Command and military forces in Iraq — would be the first Black man to lead the Pentagon.
“He is a true and tested soldier and leader,” President-Elect Biden wrote, recalling their interactions in Iraq when Gen. Austin commanded U.S. troops in the country.
“I’ve spent countless hours with him, in the field and in the White House Situation Room.
“I’ve sought his advice, seen his command, and admired his calm and his character.
“He is the definition of a patriot. He rose through the Army’s ranks during his distinguished and trailblazing career.”
The president-elect added that Gen. Austin “shares my profound belief that the United States is strongest when we lead not only with the example of our power, but with the power of our example.” Mr. Biden’s office said the president-elect formally introduced Gen. Austin at an event in Wilmington, Del. on yesterday.
Mr. Austin, 67, retired as a four-star Army general in 2016 and would be the second former uniformed military commander to head the Department of Defense in the last four years.
Like former Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served as President Donald J. Trump’s first Pentagon chief,
Gen. Austin would require a special waiver passed by Congress in order to exempt him from a federal law requiring military officers to wait seven years before serving as defense secretary.
Several Democratic senators expressed reservations about granting such a waiver when asked on Tuesday.
Multiple sources confirmed the selection to CBS News on Monday before Mr. Biden’s essay.
Mr. Biden told reporters on Monday in Delaware that he planned to formally announce his choice to lead the defense department later in the week.
Gen. Austin’s emergence as a candidate for the job came amid growing calls from national civil rights organizations, and Democratic Asian, Black and Latino caucuses to ensure that Mr. Biden nominated minorities and women to senior Cabinet posts.