Updated Dec 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden picks retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Army General Lloyd Austin III in March 2016 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday said he would nominate retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary.

Why it matters: This will be the second consecutive administration to go against the tradition of civilian control at the Department of Defense. Austin, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, would also be the first Black secretary of defense in American history.

  • Austin will require a waiver from Congress, just as Gen. James Mattis did in 2017, because he hasn’t been retired for long enough from active duty.

The big picture: Biden is bringing experienced hands to his Cabinet, with an early emphasis on assembling diverse leaders.

  • Biden made the offer on Sunday, and Austin accepted.

Of note: Austin was the first Black general to command a theater of war in Iraq, the first Black person to serve as the commander of U.S. Central Command, and the first Black American to hold the title of vice chief of staff of the army.

What they're saying: "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..."

  • "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," Biden said in a statement Tuesday.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

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