Former African-American General Lloyd Austin Takes Head Of Pentagon

New Defense Minister Lloyd Austin arrives at the Pentagon in Washington on January 22, 2021. – Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP

Ex-General Lloyd Austin’s appointment as US defense minister was confirmed on Friday, with the 67-year-old becoming the first African-American to lead the Pentagon.

After the Director of Intelligence, Avril Haines, Lloyd Austin is the second member of Joe Biden’s government whose appointment has received the green light from elected officials.

Seven years of compulsory retirement before taking the head of the Pentagon

“It is an honor and a privilege to become the 28th Minister of Defense of our country, and I am particularly proud to be the first African-American to occupy this position,” the new minister immediately tweeted. Now to work ”. The appointment of the former Army General, who notably fought in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming the first colored man to lead the United States Army Central Command (Centcom), was approved at Senate by 93 votes to 2.

The day before, the two chambers of Congress had granted a dispensation to the general retired since 2016, under a regulation stipulating that a former soldier must be retired for more than seven years to become Minister of Defense. Since the adoption in 1947 of this rule intended to ensure close civilian control over the military, only two exemptions have been approved: the first in 1950 for George Marshall, who had just implemented his eponymous plan to rebuild Europe. , and the second for Jim Mattis in 2016.

The pandemic in the sights

Lloyd Austin pledged to fight extremism in the US military, after the military in plain clothes participated in the assault on Capitol Hill by supporters of former President Donald Trump. “I will do everything to rid our ranks of racists and extremists”, he assured Tuesday before the Committee of the Armed Forces of the Senate, while 12 soldiers of the US National Guard had been removed from the security device of the ceremony investiture of Joe Biden as part of a procedure to search for possible links with extremist groups. But he also pledged to make the Covid-19 pandemic his first priority.

“She killed over 400,000 Americans. These are simply disproportionate losses, ”he noted, believing that the Pentagon could do more to fight the disease. Lloyd Austin told elected officials that he intended to re-examine the military withdrawals from Germany and Somalia wanted by Donald Trump, but he supported the withdrawal from Afghanistan. “I would like to see this conflict end with a negotiated agreement,” he said, deeming it preferable “to focus on counterterrorism operations in the future”.

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