US President elect Joe Biden picks ex-general as defence Secretary

Dec, 8th 2020 – US president-elect Joe Biden has chosen retired General Lloyd Austin as his defence secretary. General Austin led the US Central Command during President Obama’s reign. 

Should he sit in office, he will require a waiver since he is seven years past the retirement age according to the law that quotes the retirement age as 60. 

Biden’s announcement comes two weeks after he announced other senior members of his national security team. Austin was offered a job on Sunday which he immediately accepted.

The 67 year old became a four star general in the Army and retired in 2016 as chief of US Central Command, a role where he oversaw US military operations across the Middle East for three years. He was the first Black General to command an Army division in combat and the first to oversee an entire theater of operations.

His tenure included the rise of Islamic State which began seizing cities in Iraq in 2014 and US led military invention to stop it. The two, Biden and Austin know each other from Obama’s administration Iraq drawdown, when the former vice president led Iraq policy and Austin served as the last commanding general of US forces in Iraq.

Austin in his position played a key role in the surge of forces that began in 2007 and was also in charge of the withdrawal of US combat forces in 2011.

Austin’s nomination could has some difficulties. This is because he has not been out of the military for the required amount which is seven years and therefore would need a waiver from Congress to become the Secretary of Defense.

Lawmakers have signaled their wariness of granting yet another exception for a retired general to leas the Pentagon four years after President Donald Trump got one for his defense secretary Jim Mattis.

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