While becoming America’s first Black Secretary of Defense, veteran four-star U.S. General Lloyd Austin made headlines on Friday when he was appointed by the 46th American President Joe Biden.
The Senate approved the appointment of President Biden’s appointee, Lloyd Austin, who retired from the Military in 2016 after 41 years of public service, by an amazing vote of 93-2 vote.
Lloyd Austin has had a lengthy connection with Biden since he served during President Obama’s first term in office as commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Despite the amazing records, Lloyd Austin’s appointment got some backlash from within Joe Biden’s own Democratic Party. Austin’s journey to Secretary of Defense had met with resistance over questions about installing a military figure in a position typically reserved for civilians.
Lloyd Austin took to his Twitter to show appreciation to Joe Biden after entrusting him with power as the 28th US Secretary of Defense.
It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position. Let’s get to work. pic.twitter.com/qPAzVRxz9L
— Lloyd Austin (@LloydAustin) January 22, 2021
A waiver for Austin to serve in the civilian role was accepted by Congress on Thursday. Underneath the rule, in order to be appointed defense secretary, a former service officer must be out of the force for 7 years.
While all of the former defense secretaries served briefly in the service, only two were career officers before Austin—George C. Marshall and James Mattis.
The Senate approved the bill by a majority of 69-27, but in the Assembly, where it also passed 326-78, the members of the Senate.
“Civilian control of the military is fundamental to our democracy so I don’t think this is the time to make an exception,” Moulton, of Massachusetts, told Politico in December while explaining his stance. “Almost by definition a recently retired general is by all intents and purposes thinking like a general.”
In this context, Joe Biden and the newly appointed defense secretary, Austin have served together. Biden served with Austin as vice president of the Obama administration while the general was chief of U.S. troops in Iraq and then as commander of the U.S. From 2013 to 2016, Central Command.
“I’ve seen him lead American fighting forces on the field of battle. I’ve also watched him faithfully carry out the orders of the civilian leadership of this nation,” Biden has said. “I know this man. I know his respect for our Constitution. I know his respect for our system of government.”
From the beginning to the very end, Lloyd Austin was engaged in the Iraq War. During the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, he served as a deputy commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and supervised the withdrawal in 2011. Obama lauded his “character and competence,” and perhaps even his judgment and leadership when Austin retired in 2016.
In 2012, Lloyd Austin again served as the Military’s first Black vice chief of staff, the service’s No. 2 ranked spot. One year back, he took command of the U.S. Central Command, where he planned and started executing a U.S. military plan to battle extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Lloyd Austin is a member of the board of directors of a major U.S. military contractor, Raytheon Technologies, but said he would recuse himself from defense matters concerning Raytheon Technologies for four years during his confirmation hearing.
Austin is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. from Thomasville, Ga, At West Point’s Military Academy. According to Lloyd Austin’s biography on the Department of Defense website, he has master’s degrees in education and business administration from Auburn University and Webster University, respectively.
He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, and the Army Commendation Medal, among other recognitions, during Austin’s military career.
Although Biden praised Austin’s willingness to direct Iraqi forces, the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a fellow military man, did not agree with Austin’s advice about how to deal with Syria at a notorious 2015 hearing on fighting ISIS.
“Basically General, what you’re telling us is everything is fine as we see hundreds of thousands of refugees leave and flood Europe as we’re seeing now – 250,000 Syrians slaughtered,” McCain said to Austin after the USCENTCOM Commander said he would not recommend a “buffer zone” to allow the Syrian refugees to escape to, as it would require U.S. forces.
“I’ve never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert in what you are saying,” the late senator said during an awkward moment as the general looked on at the Senate Armed Services Committee chair.
Gen. Lloyd Austin Wiki and Biography
Austin III is a Thomasville, Georgia native. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, he was named an Infantry Second Lieutenant in 1975. Throughout his 37-year career, General Austin has served in a vast range of command and staff posts.
His early assignments included tasks with 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Group, U.S. Army Europe, and 7th Army; 2d Battalion, 508th Infantry, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; U.S. Army Recruitment Battalion, Indianapolis, Indiana; U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York; 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, and 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Dru Division, Indiana.
In 1993, General Austin returned to Fort Bragg and served from 1997 to 1999 as Commander, 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, G-3 82d Airborne Division, and later as Commander, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division. He was assigned to the Pentagon after service at Fort Bragg, where he served as Chief, Joint Operations Branch, J-3 on the Joint Staff.
General Austin served from July 2001 to June 2003 as Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Stewart, Georgia and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM; and from September 2003 to August 2005 as Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York, with duties as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-180, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistán.
From September 2005 to November 2006, he served as Chief of Staff, U.S. Central Command, followed by a post as Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps in December 2006, where he served as Commander General, XVIII Airborne Corps.
Multi-National Corps Iraq, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, was in charge from February 2008 to April 2009. He was then transferred from August 2009 to August 2010 to the Pentagon as the Director, Joint Staff. From September 2010 through the end of OPERATION NEW DAWN in December 2011, General Austin commanded United States Forces-Iraq.
Quite recently, from January 2012 to March 2013, General Austin served as the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. On 22 March 2013, General Austin took the leadership of United States Central Command.
Lloyd Austin’s military education includes the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia; United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and the United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy, a Master’s Degree in Education from Auburn University, and a Master’s Degree in Business Management from Webster University.
General Austin’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with Three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Distinguished Service Medal (with Two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with Four Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (with Six Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, the Ranger Tab and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge.
Social Media Reactions After Lloyd Austin Appointment
“Not familiar with the gentleman’s qualifications but it isn’t a cake walk to become a four start general. Hope he is represents the service personnel and American interest over politics. He has some solid pipes if you have ever hear him speak”.
“Tell us…what benefit is there for us to know that the unfit individuals are any skin tone, sexual preferences, genders, married, political affiliation (we already know not a single conservative will be considered, regardless of capabilities), or any aspect other than experience and qualifications to perform the job better than anyone else?”
“Trump never failed to express his pure hatred for Democrats – elected and Americans at large. At this point it is way beyond generous for Biden, who Trump would have us believe is, like all Democrats, a satanic pedophile communist (emphasis on communist as absurd as that is) to prioritize unity between parties. He has already expressed his intention to include Republicans (who aren’t white supremacists) in his administration. Just give him a while to find them.”
“As long as they keep referring to this person is black or this person is Hispanic or this person is white, racism will always exist. General Austin may be the only chosen staff member that is truly qualified and I believe it’s not uncommon for military brass to be hired by the companies that have a relationship with the Military Industrial Complex. Let us hope he does a better job at the Pentagon than Comey and Wray did at the FBI.”
“Anytime a female and/or minority gets an appointment Fox nation thinks it is because of their gender or race. Unfortunately though, we are still in a place in human history when it is despite their gender or race. Look at the demographics of congress and CEOs in this nation. The truth is that over the centuries white males have gotten not only special consideration but the only consideration for nearly all, if not all, positions of power. Folks, assuming that white males are better qualified IS the racism/sexism you den”
“Why must everything be about color? Placing color to identity is what divides us and will guarantee racial problems for generations to come. Furthermore, it’s ok to label someone as “First Black this or First Black that”. You never hear a “White” identity labeled to someone’s job. If the article read “White Pentagon Chief” it would immediately be declared racist and cities would be burned down. I wish we could truly be equal and not labeled by color.”