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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.

Go deeper

Biden taps ex-UN ambassador Samantha Power to lead USAID

Samantha Power at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Why it matters: Biden's decision to bring Power, another veteran of the Obama years, into the administration is a reflection of his intent to revitalize foreign assistance as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.