Biden selects retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defense

 If confirmed, he would be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon

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President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly selected retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as secretary of defense.

If confirmed, Austin, who ran U.S. Central Command before retiring in 2016, would be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon.

A source familiar with Biden’s decision told CNN on Monday that the list of contenders also include veteran Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy and former secretary of Homeland security Jeh Johnson, both served under Barack Obama’s first term.

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Flournoy and Johnson have faced some tough criticism from progressive Democrats, the Wall Street Journal reports, seemingly making Austin’s nomination much easier.

Biden appears to be living up to the expectations from his colleagues by providing opportunities to those who otherwise would be overlooked and excluded based on racial or gender bias.

The Republican-controlled Senate will have to confirm Austin, a Mobile, Alabama native who was called a “soldier’s soldier” by former Obama Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Obama himself said Austin “relied on his wise judgment and steadfast leadership,” Alabama.com reports.

“General Austin’s character and competence exemplify what America demands of its military leaders,” said Obama, according to a 2016 profile in Military.com.

“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 Congressional Black Caucus member told POLITICO.

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Austin is more than qualified for the top Pentagon position. He earned a degree from West Point at the United States Military Academy, got his Master’s at Aubrn University and MBA at Webster University. He has been awarded the country’s highest noncombat-related military award five times – five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, three Distinguished Service Medals; the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat and two Legions of Merit.

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