Senate Confirms Gen Lloyd Austin III as Secretary of Defense

By Faye Higbee

Gen Lloyd Austin III was confirmed on Friday as Biden’s Secretary of Defense, the first AFrican-American to ever hold the position. The vote was 93-2. Gen Austin is a 41 year career Army commander who retired in 2016. It’s tough to say no to a man who’s been around the military for so long, and General Austin is a prime example.

In order to be confirmed, he had to have a Congressional waiver, which was obtained.

Background of Gen Lloyd Austin III

Gen Austin has held a variey of commands since he graduated from West Point in 1975, according to the Special Operations Report. He’s also been married for 41 years, which seemed to be a novelty to the committee that worked on his confirmation. His experience includes:

  • Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Infantry Division (Iraq)
  • Division Commander, 10th Mountain Division-Light (Afghanistan) 
  • Commander, Multi-National Corps (Iraq)
  • Director, Joint Staff
  • Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
  • Commander U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)

From March 22, 2013 to March 30, 2016, Gen Austin was the 12th Commander and first African-American Commander of CENTCOM.

In this capacity, he was responsible for military strategy and joint operations throughout the Middle East and Central and South Asia. He also served as the Combined Forces Commander, overseeing the military campaign to defeat the terrorist organization, ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Academy of Diplomacy

ISIS hit its zenith in 2014 by taking large swaths of Syria and Iraq. General Austin didn’t make many friends while testifying for a fighting force to go against ISIS.

Austin had had contentious meetings with Congress regarding the push to create an anti-ISIS force. The plan was for this force to have thousands of fighters, yet it only produced a handful. There were also reports that Austin had disparaged the prospects for ISIS, which had prompted President Obama to call them “terrorism’s JV team.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had said that in his 30 years on the committee, “I have never heard testimony like this… Never.”

He had added, “I have never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert and what you are saying.” 

SOFREP

Gen Lloyd Austin III has commanded men in his career from 1 star through 4 stars. He has numerous awards, including a Silver Star, which he received while “Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver, 3d Infantry Division, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during the Battle for Baghdad, Iraq, in April 2003.” You can read more about his biography here.

That still doesn’t tell us why Biden picked him. Or does it?

Biden knows Austin, he has a comfort level with him. He likes the fact that Austin knows his way around the Department…

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

Psaki stated that Austin’s “calm” and ability to manage under pressure were qualities Biden liked. Biden was under pressure from the Black Caucus to put more Blacks in his Cabinet, and Gen Lloyd Austin III fit the bill. He lacks experience in “reinventing weapons and strategy to counter a rising, high-tech China,” according to several military media. So we’ll see how this plays out. We wish him the best. And we pray for the best for America and our military too.

*****

Featured photo: DoD photo of Gen Lloyd Austin as he was questioned about his 41 year marriage

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