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Biden picks Retired General Lloyd Austin to run Pentagon by LARA SELIGMAN, TYLER PAGER, CONNOR O’BRIEN and NATASHA BERTRAND

Biden picks retired general Lloyd Austin to run Pentagon

Biden had been under growing pressure to nominate a Black person to be his defense secretary in recent weeks. He chose Austin after also considering former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for the job, several people familiar with the discussions said. Lingering concerns about Johnson’s tenure in the Obama administration improved Austin’s standing among Congressional Black Caucus members in recent days, according to two people, including a House Democratic aide. Johnson has been criticized for his record on expanding family detention and accelerating deportations, as well as approving hundreds of drone strikes against suspected terrorists that killed civilians.”General Austin is a southerner, has impeccable credentials given his military career and would be an outstanding secretary for the department,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), a CBC member who is close to Biden, told POLITICO earlier Monday. A person familiar with Biden’s decision said the president-elect chose Austin because he is crisis-tested and respected across the military. Biden also trusts Austin, as they worked together when Biden served as vice president and had a large foreign policy portfolio. The president-elect was also drawn to the history-making aspect of Austin’s nomination and his deep logistics experience, which will prove critical as the military helps distribute coronavirus vaccines, the person said. Biden offered Austin the job Sunday, and he accepted the same day, the person added. Austin declined to comment through a spokesperson. A spokesperson for the Biden transition team also declined to comment. Biden and Austin got to know each other during the Obama administration’s Iraq drawdown, when the former vice president led Iraq policy and Austin served as the last commanding general of U. S. forces in Iraq. In that position, Austin played a key role in the surge of forces that began in 2007 and was in charge of the withdrawal of U. S. combat forces in 2011. Austin’s nomination may run into trouble on Capitol Hill. Austin has not been out of the military for the required seven years and would need a waiver from Congress to become secretary of Defense — and lawmakers have signaled their wariness of granting yet another exception for a retired general to lead the Pentagon just four years after President Donald Trump sought one for his first defense secretary, Jim Mattis. Austin’s candidacy has also been met with resistance from some national security experts, who expressed concern about the balance of civil-military power in the Pentagon under yet another retired general.“From a civil-military relations perspective, this seems like a terrible idea,” tweeted Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University professor and former Pentagon official who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for a woman to be chosen as Defense secretary. “Lots of damage during the Trump era. Especially after Mattis, Kelly, McMaster, Flynn….

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense, according to three people with knowledge of the decision. If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon. 

In picking Austin, Biden has chosen a barrier-breaking former four-star officer who was the first Black general to command an Army division in combat and the first to oversee an entire theater of operations. Austin’s announcement could come as soon as Tuesday morning, people familiar with the plans said Monday.

Austin, who also ran U.S. Central Command before retiring in 2016, emerged as a top-tier candidate in recent days after initially being viewed as a longshot for the job. Michèle Flournoy, Obama’s former Pentagon policy chief, was initially viewed as the frontrunner, but her name was notably absent from Biden’s rollout of key members of his national security team two weeks ago. 

Biden had been under growing pressure to nominate a Black person to be his defense secretary in recent weeks. He chose Austin after also considering former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for the job, several people familiar with the discussions said.

Lingering concerns about Johnson’s tenure in the Obama administration improved Austin’s standing among Congressional Black Caucus members in recent days, according to two people, including a House Democratic aide. Johnson has been criticized for his record on expanding family detention and accelerating deportations, as well as approving hundreds of drone strikes against suspected terrorists that killed civilians. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/07/lloyd-austin-biden-secretary-defense-frontrunner-contender-443479

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