- President-elect Joe Biden is adding to his list of potential defense secretaries a retired US Army general, according to an Axios report published Friday.
- Lloyd Austin is a Black four-star general with over four decades in the military.
- If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black defense secretary in the US.
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President-elect Joe Biden is adding to his list of potential defense secretaries a retired US Army general, according to an Axios report published Friday.
Biden is reportedly considering Lloyd Austin, a Black four-star general with over four decades in the military. Austin’s name is one of several others being floated to lead the Pentagon in the incoming Biden administration. Michele Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, is another possible candidate for the job.
Biden’s team is considering other factors in addition to experience for their selection, including a candidate’s race, unnamed sources told Axios. Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina previously told The Hill that although he heard Black candidates were “given fair consideration,” only one Black person had been named to Biden’s cabinet so far.
Former diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Black woman, was selected to be the next United Nations ambassador.
“I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces,” Clyburn told The Hill. “But so far it’s not good.”
If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black defense secretary in the US.
Austin first served in the Army in 1975 and graduated from West Point. He took on numerous leadership roles, having commanded all of the US’s troops in Iraq and helming US Central Command, the combatant command responsible for all US operations in the Middle East. Austin retired in 2016 and founded the Austin Strategy Group, a consulting service in Washington, D.C.
Although many past defense secretaries have served in the military, those who rose to the rank of general have been rare. The last to do so was James Mattis, a four-star US Marine Corps general, who served as President Donald Trump’s first defense secretary before resigning in 2018. Critics have long argued that defense secretaries must have had some level of separation from the military, given the political nature of their duties and to avoid any biases based on their prior service.
Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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