General Lloyd J. Austin III would be the first Black person to have control over the Pentagon. President-Elect Joe Biden is moving forward with the agenda of Inclusion by selecting Gen. Austin as the formidable candidate to lead operations stemming from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Reports from Congressional Black Congress state the majority support this idea of Gen. Austin in the seat of leadership; landing this position looks promising due to the established relationship between Biden and Austin during the Obama Administration era when settling issues in Iraq.
Austin and Biden have history. When Biden was delegating orders as Vice President, Austin was the “lasting commanding general” of U.S. Forces in Iraq. The mission was aligned and their positions were synchronized to carry out the goals of the U.S. Austin had a significant role in the arrival and departure of U.S. combat forces in Iraq between 2007-2011.
Although there is an established kinetic relationship between them, there are obstacles seen on the forefront of Capitol Hill. According to Yahoo News, Strict benchmarks are put in place. A candidate must wait seven years after being in the military alongside a waiver needed from Congress to become Secretary of Defense. Due to past leniency found in the former presidential party, policymakers have made their concerns known.
Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Karen Bass (D-Calif.) Expressed to MSNBC that the majority of the Caucus she leads backs up the leadership vision of Austin. This has been a continuous discussion within the CBC special task force and the Biden-Harris transition team.
Bass stated, “I think the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is going to have so much work to do to repair and to change all of the chaos that’s been happening over the last for years. I think having someone like Austin is very important,” Bass continued, “I believe he will bring the type of leadership and stability that is needed in the military.”
If the first African American Secretary of Defense, Austin will manage 1.3 million active-duty troops and the corresponding bureaucracy to back him up. Gen. Austin, at age 67, has been the only African American with the title of U.S. Central Command, significant actions in Iraq, and a role in the military’s marquee combat command.
Reports portray Gen. Austin’s strengths lauded on the battlefield, but he may have a weaker angle in political strategy. The retired military officer’s background is a hybrid of knowledge and accolades, in 1975, he was active as an infantry second lieutenant, but quickly advanced to a four-star general. Serving 41 years in the U.S Army, Austin also graduated with a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, received his M.Ed from Auburn University, and received his MBA from Webster University.
Noted military engagement while Austin was on active duty includes Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn. Within his time in the military, he received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (Three Oak Tree Clusters pendants), the Distinguished Service Medal (Two Clusters pendants) the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, and countless more. Additionally, Austin was noted as the first African American General Officer to lead an army division and Corps in combat.
Austin is an active board member on multiple platforms including Raytheon Technologies, Nucor Steel Manufacturing, Tenet Healthcare services, and Guest Services Inc. of hospitality Management.
Quoting statements by President Biden, “General Austin shares my profound belief that our nation is at its strongest when we lead not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” He continued, “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.”