U.S. Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin speaks after being officially nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Defense by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen Theatre on December 09, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
WASHINGTON– President-elect Joe Biden formally announced on Wednesday retired four-star Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as his choice to be the 28th secretary of Defense.
“We should prepare to satisfy the obstacles for the future, not just keep combating wars of the past, we should construct a diplomacy to lead with diplomacy, renews the State Department, renews our alliance, putting American management back at the table and rallying the world to meet worldwide risks,” Biden said.
“From pandemics to climate modification, from nuclear expansion to the refugee crisis … Lloyd Austin understands how to do this work,” he added.
The choice of Austin has set off some debate associated to his company ties as well as his status as a just recently retired general. Austin is presently a board member at defense huge Raytheon. President Donald Trump’s former Pentagon chiefs James Mattis, Mark Esper and acting secretary of defense Patrick Shanahan also had ties to defense giants General Dynamics, Raytheon and Boeing.
Under the National Security Act of 1947, Congress has prohibited any private from acting as secretary of Defense within 7 years of active-duty service. However Austin left the Army just 4 years ago, and he would need a special congressional waiver in order to bypass the seven-year guideline.
“There’s a great reason for this law that I totally understand and regard. I would not be requesting this exception if I did not believe that this moment in our history does not call for it,” Biden said.
“I know this man, I know his respect for our Constitution and our regard for our system of government. So, just as they provided for Secretary Jim Mattis, I asked Congress to grant a waiver,” Biden included.
If validated by the Senate, the 1975 graduate of West Point would be the first Black leader of the Pentagon, breaking one of the more long-lasting barriers in the U.S. federal government.