Lloyd Austin Becomes First Black US Defense Secretary

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE - DECEMBER 09: U.S. Army (retired) General Lloyd Austin speaks after being formally 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. The only African-American to have headed U.S. Central Command, Lloyd Austin, 67, is a four-star general who was in charge of American forces in Iraq from 2010 to late 2011. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, has been confirmed by the Senate, making him the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history.

The Senate approved President Biden’s nomination for Pentagon chief in a near-unanimous 93-2 vote on Friday.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African American to hold the position, Let’s get to work,” Austin tweeted Friday.

Austin’s nomination was approved despite concerns raised on both sides of the aisle that he hadn’t been out of uniform for the legally mandated seven-year period.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrives at the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Austin becomes just the third Pentagon chief to serve after receiving a waiver. He joins George Marshall, a retired general of the Army nominated in 1950 by President Harry Truman, and retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, former President Donald Trump’s first defense secretary in 2017.

Austin served more than 40 years in the Army, and headed U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon’s key post leading military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He served as commander of the theatre from 2013 to 2016, making him the first Black general to hold that post.

Austin graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 with a commission in the Infantry, according to his biography from the American Academy of Diplomacy.

He was born in Mobile, Alabama, but grew up in Thomasville, Georgia. That’s the same Georgia town where Army Lt. Henry O. Flipper was born.

Flipper was born a slave in 1856 and went on to become the first Black graduate of West Point and the first African American commissioned officer in the Army.

source: NPR

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