Retired Army General Lloyd Austin Could Become The First Black Person To Lead The Pentagon


December 9, 2020

He’s a history maker!

Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, former commander for U.S. Central Command, was announced as the nominee for defense secretary. The secretary of defense controls the nation’s largest government agency, which commands troops around the world and manages the Pentagon. If confirmed, he will make history as the first Black Pentagon leader.

Biden took to Twitter to announce his nomination with a letter published in The Atlantic explaining his selection of General Austin. 


 “In his more than 40 years in the United States Army, Austin met every challenge with extraordinary skill and profound personal decency. He is a true and tested soldier and leader. 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,” Biden wrote. “He is the definition of a patriot. He rose through the Army’s ranks during his distinguished and trailblazing career. He was the 200th person ever to attain the rank of an Army four-star general, but only the sixth African American. He built a career grounded in service to this country and challenged the institution that he loves to grow more inclusive and more diverse at every step.”


The 67-year-old graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. in 1975 and has more than 40 years of experience in uniform across the Middle East. While in the military, he shattered another glass ceiling as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, the service’s second-ranking officer. He worked closely with Biden during the Obama administration as the point person for Iraq, where Austin has extensive experience, working as the U.S. top commander there. 

In 2003, Austin was honored for his bravery as a one-star general, receiving a silver star, the third-highest medal for battlefield heroics, for his role in leading the 3rd Infantry Division. He also commanded the 10th Mountain Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps, and Obama selected him to oversee the U.S. pullout of more than 50,000 troops from Iraq in September 2010.

Following his retirement in 2016, General Austin joined the board of defense contractor Raytheon Technologies. He is also on Nucor’s board, the largest American steel producer, Tenet, a healthcare company, and is a trustee of the philanthropic foundation, Carnegie Corporation. 


“General Austin is a southerner, has impeccable credentials given his military career, and would be an outstanding secretary for the department,” Mississippi’s Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson, a CBC member, told Politico.

Since he retired less than five years, he will need a congressional waiver to be confirmed for the civilian post. Federal law requires seven years of retirement from active duty before taking on the role.

We’re wishing you good luck, General.


Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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