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Biden’s Secretary of Defense-designate Lloyd Austin praised as “experienced” and “crisis-tested” Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 24, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday announced his nomination of retired four-star General Lloyd J. Austin to serve as the 28th United States Secretary of Defense.

Secretary-designate Austin has been praised as an experienced, crisis-tested, and historic choice by a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers, servicemembers and veterans, and national security leaders.

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Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Brig. Gen. Dan Allyn, XVIII Airborne Corps chief of staff, after the Pass in Review with then-Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, III, in 2009. (U.S. Army)
Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Brig. Gen. Dan Allyn, XVIII Airborne Corps chief of staff, after the Pass in Review with then-Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, III, in 2009. (U.S. Army)

Susan Rice, Former National Security Adviser “I’ve worked closely with Gen. Lloyd Austin and know him to be a strong leader, a kind man of decency, principle and integrity, who is highly respected by those who have served with him.  I am also proud to call him a friend. This country will benefit yet again from his service.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Hillary Clinton, Former Secretary of State I’ve known Lloyd Austin for 15 years, and worked closely with him from both the Senate and as Secretary of State. He will make history, and serve this country well. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Biden nominates retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense
General Lloyd Austin

Michèle Flournoy, Former Undersecretary of Defense“I congratulate General Lloyd Austin on his nomination as Secretary of Defense by President-elect Joe Biden. General Austin is a man of deep integrity who has spent a lifetime in service to our country. General Austin is a colleague and friend, and I know he will bring his impressive skills to bear to lead all those who volunteer to defend our country, military and civilian, at this critical moment in our nation’s history. I look forward to helping him and the President-elect succeed in any way that I can.” [Statement, 12/8/20]

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House “President-elect Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin, brings a great understanding of the challenges facing our nation’s defense and a deep appreciation for the sacrifice of our military heroes and their families.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Senator Dick Durbin, Democratic Whip “I opposed the waiver on Mattis, but I have to tell you I was so impressed with his performance that I would consider a waiver for Austin, once I get to know him.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Senator Jim Inhofe, Senate Armed Services Chairman“Armed Svcs Cmte Chair Inhofe says he would vote for a waiver for Lloyd Austin to serve as DefSec “in a heartbeat” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Senator Bernie Sanders On waiver: “My inclination is that I would support that.” [MSNBC, 12/8/20]

Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin

Senator Chris Murphy On waiver: “I inherently trust the Biden administration on issues of national security in a way that I did not inherently trust the Trump administration. So I’m certainly — given that I’m a believer in his policy, I’m much more willing to give him deference.” [The Hill, 12/8/20]

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Congressional Black Caucus “The appointment of Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense makes our country stronger and safer. He has led a distinguished career of service to this nation, most recently served as the head of the United States Central Command and vice chief of staff of the Army. He is a decorated combat veteran, having been awarded the nation’s third-highest award for valor: the Silver Star. But this is about more than an impeccable record. This appointment reverberates throughout the history of military service and courage in United States Armed Forces. Black Americans have sacrificed their lives for this country in every war since the Revolutionary War. Appointing Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to a position of command and authority over the United States military, second only to the President of the United States, is historic and well-deserved.” [Statement, 12/8/20]

Representative James Clyburn, Majority Whip“It [the nomination of Secretary-designate Austin] is exactly what I think needed to be done. As you know, the military is about 40% minority. I think the kinds of experiences that General Austin has had are the kind of experiences that needed to be put to play. So much of what we do in our governmental process is sometimes skewed, because people have not had the kind of experiences that are necessary in order to have the compassion and the empathy that is needed for our brave men and women serving in the armed services. So I think General Austin has those experiences and I think this is a great appointment. [CNN New Day, 12/8/20]

Representative Anthony Brown, House Armed Services CommitteeHistoric and significant – if he is @JoeBiden‘s pick for SecDef Gen Lloyd Austin has the character and competence necessary to lead the Department of DefenseLloyd Austin is top flight and he’s the right choice to lead our civilian & military personnel at the Pentagon [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Representative Karen BassOn Gen. Lloyd Austin, @RepKarenBass: “Having someone like Austin be appointed is very important. I had the opportunity to meet him on congressional delegation to Iraq several years ago. I believe he will bring the type of leadership & stability needed to the military.” [Tweet, 12/8/20] “We have given waivers before. We voted on a waiver for Mattis, and I think we need to do it now.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Representative Don Bacon, House Armed Services Committee Republican“I plan on supporting the waiver. It does not bother me to have a retired general be the secretary of defense,” he says, touting the experience he’ll bring to DoD. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Representative Bennie Thompson, Chairman of House Homeland Security Committee“General Austin is a southerner, has impeccable credentials given his military career and would be an outstanding secretary for the department.” [Politico, 12/7/20]

Representative Gregory Meeks, Incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman“The first black commander of CENTCOM, General Lloyd Austin is set to once again make history as the first Defense Secretary.  With Xavier Becerra announced to HHS, it has been a great week for diversity in the coming administration.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Representative Ro Khanna“I don’t see how you can give Mattis a waiver a few years ago & then, when one of the most qualified African American generals comes before Congress, to deny him one,” Khanna said.“That seems hypocritical. So given Mattis had that exception we can do it one more time,” he said. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Representative Joyce BeattyI applaud the historic nomination of General Lloyd Austin to be our nation’s first-ever Black Secretary of Defense. His long history of service & unequal qualifications make him the perfect leader for our military & national defense during this critical moment in time … I support his nomination waiver, urge the Senate to hold his confirmation hearings quickly, and look forward to working with him to protect our people, our country, and our national security interests around the globe. [Tweets, 12/8/20]

Valerie Jarrett“@AmbassadorRice  is absolutely right.  It was an honor to serve with Gen. Lloyd Austin in the @BarackObama / @JoeBiden  Administration.  He will be an extraordinary Secretary of Defense. I am so grateful once again for his willingness to serve our country.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Dana Shell Smith, Former US Ambassador and Diplomat“As Ambassador I worked closely with Lloyd Austin. He is an inspiring leader, great patriot and an incredibly decent human. Delighted to see President-elect Biden recognize his many talents, knowledge and steady, calming leadership style.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Michael Steele, Former RNC Chairman“From the 54th Massachusetts to Buffalo Soldiers to Tuskegee Airmen ⁦@JoeBiden⁩ pick for Secretary of Defense is both historic and important. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower are smiling.” [Tweet, 12/7/20]

Vote Vets “The pick sends the signal to our senior military leadership that a Biden administration respects them and will listen to them, even when they disagree with the president. There will be no loyalty tests, other than the oath of service, declaring loyalty to our Constitution.” [Tweet, 12/8/20]

 James Stavridis, Retired United States Navy Admiral“I think we should provide another waiver. I think the Pentagon is in turmoil right now, we’ve had 4-5 Secy’s of Defense, and I think a figure like Lloyd Austin who has an unimpeachable combat record…who is well-liked, a team personality, who can walk into the building and command instant respect.” [Andrea Mitchell Reports, 12/8/20]

Brett McGurk, Former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISISJoe Biden and Lloyd Austin know and trust one another. That’s the most important factor in a chain-of-command relationship. Lloyd brings a lifetime of unique experience to any decision table. He knows the costs of war—and will make an excellent SECDEF.  [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Erik Sperling, Just Foreign Policy Executive Director“Progressives should be encouraged that Austin was criticized from the right for his desire to avoid civilian casualties in his air campaign against ISIS. Austin’s approach rightly tracked the reluctance of President Obama and other senior civilian officials to re-engage militarily in the Middle East.” [Washington Post, 12/07/20] 

Reverend Al Sharpton“It’s a good choice that I think many in the civil rights community would support. It’s the first time we have seen a person of color in that position. That means something, in a global view, especially after such an antagonistic relationship we had with the previous administration.” [AP, 12/7/20]

Mark Hertling, Former Commanding General of United States Army Europe and the Seventh Army“Lloyd is a superb soldier, a great leader. In fact, right now he’s also the chair of the leadership at westpoint. So he is seen by cadets and faculty alike as continuing his service to not only the nation but to our alma mater. As a commander in Iraq, he was my corps commander when I had a division in northern Iraq….He’s smart as a whip. He has worked with President-elect Biden before on multiple occasions. So I think there’s a comfort level there from his time not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and when Lloyd was the commander of Central Command during the Obama Administration. [CNN New Day, 12/8/20] 

Claire McCaskill, Former US Senator“You’re going to need somebody really strong to stand up to those cronies. I think Lloyd Austin is the guy to do that. I think he’ll be confirmed.” #AMRstaff [Tweet, 12/8/20]
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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