İrem UZUN -TDO- U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Lloyd Austin, who helped spearhead the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and rose to head the U.S. Central Command, as the first Black defense secretary. A veteran of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the retired four-star army general, 67, beat out the favorite for the job, former under-secretary of defense Michele Flournoy, amid pressure on Biden to nominate more minorities for positions in his cabinet.
Biden has known Austin at least since the general’s years leading U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq while Biden was vice-president. Austin was commander in Baghdad of the multinational corps-Iraq in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, and he returned to lead U.S. troops from 2010 through 2011. Austin also served in 2012 as the first Black vice-chief of staff of the army, the service’s No 2-ranking position. A year later he assumed command of U.S. central command, where he fashioned and began implementing a U.S. military strategy against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon. As a career military officer, Austin is likely to face opposition from some in Congress and in the defense establishment who believe in drawing a clear line between civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon. Although many previous defense secretaries have served briefly in the military, only two – George C Marshall and James Mattis – have been career officers.