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Here’s what people are saying about the historic nomination of Secretary of Defense-designate Lloyd Austin Updated for 2021


Updated: February 25, 2021

U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday introduced retired General Lloyd J. Austin III, nominee to serve as the 28th United States Secretary of Defense, at an event in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden described Austin as a trusted and crisis-tested leader with more than 40 years of service in America’s defense.

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Retired Army General Lloyd Austin speaks after being formally nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Defense by President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen Theatre, Dec. 9, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.(CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)
Retired Army General Lloyd Austin speaks after being formally nominated to be Secretary of the Department of Defense by President-elect Joe Biden at the Queen Theatre, Dec. 9, 2020 in Wilmington, Del.(CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES)

If confirmed, he will be the first African American Secretary of Defense. 

Below is what the people are saying about his historic nomination.


Timothy Berry, USA Today Opinion “[P]roper recognition of commitments to this country is shown by putting Black Americans in those positions of power as well. If confirmed, Lloyd Austin would be the first African American Secretary of Defense — the culmination of a barrier-breaking career as the first African American general officer to command an Army Division in combat, to lead a Corps in combat, to command an entire theater of war, and to serve as Commander of U.S. Central Command. Representation does matter. It matters because it leads to more innovative and enduring solutions on matters of war and peace. A country that sends its sons and daughters overseas to fight its wars should have leaders who look like all our sons and daughters. … The United States Senate should confirm Lloyd James Austin III of Mobile, Alabama, to be the 28th United States Secretary of Defense. He is not only the best person to ensure our country is safe and secure, but he is a trailblazer who will inspire the next generation of Black Americans — like me.” [Op-Ed, 12/9/20]

Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State President-elect Joseph Biden is making a superb choice in selecting General Lloyd Austin to be the next Secretary of Defense. General Austin has served splendidly at all combat and civilian levels in the Armed Forces. He has demonstrated his warfighting skills and his bureaucratic, diplomatic and political acumen. Being older than him, I watched him closely and served as a mentor. Congress should have no concern in waiving the requirement that he serve at least seven years in civilian life after retiring before accepting the Secretary of Defense position. His civilian business experience in retirement expands his capability to manage the Defense Department. He knows troops and they know and respect him. They will be a great team. [Facebook, 12/8/20]

Jeh Johnson, Former DHS Secretary “I congratulate my former colleague, friend and fraternity brother Lloyd Austin on his nomination to be Secretary of Defense. I first met Lloyd in Iraq in 2009 and have been a big fan of his ever since. In his time, Lloyd has been entrusted with some of the most demanding and sensitive positions in the U.S. military.  He will be an outstanding and inspirational leader in the top spot in the Department of Defense.” [Tweet via Geoff Bennett, 12/09/20]

Ash Carter, Former Secretary of Defense Ex-Defense Secretary Ash Carter tells me Lloyd Austin “is a leader of the highest character & integrity at a time the country sorely needs them. I know he will take the greatest care of the men & women of the Department of Defense & the national security of the United States.” [Tweet via Bryan Bender, 12/8/20]

Robert Gates, Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates: Austin will be a “superb” secdef. “He is an extraordinary leader with a deep understanding of the intl challenges facing the US and the DOD.  Defense Department… “a person of unshakeable integrity, independent of thought and conscience, and a steady hand.” [Tweet via Gordon Lubod, 12/9/20]
 Former Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew “I came to know General Austin as he led our work on some of the most challenging military campaigns of our time, including defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and transitioning U.S. and Coalition military forces and equipment out of Iraq. I cannot imagine a more accomplished leader to guide the Defense Department through the many challenges our country faces.   Lloyd has demonstrated time and again his strategic judgment, understanding the real-world impact that military decisions have on our alliances, our servicemembers and their families.  With more than 40 years of service in America’s defense, he brings unmatched experience to execute and can be counted on to work tirelessly on behalf of the American people toward a more safe and secure country.Beyond his proven leadership and crisis-tested experience, Lloyd brings humility and a collaborative style to his work that will bring immense value in rebuilding our alliances and charting a new path forward for the Defense Department.” [Statement, 12/8/20]

Samantha Power, Former Ambassador to the United Nations As UN Ambassador, I worked closely with Gen. Austin as he led the anti-ISIS campaign. He is a person of great integrity, beloved and respected by those who’ve served with him. I’m grateful for his willingness to suit up again to protect our nation. 2/2 [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Rep. Andy Kim As we look to the future, I believe that @JoeBiden’s pick of Gen. Austin for SecDef is the right one for America’s security (thread)This is a decision I’ve thought very carefully about, and is informed by watching Gen. Austin up close when he served as CENTCOM commander and I served at the White House.He was always extraordinarily thoughtful and unbelievably prepared whenever he spoke in the Situation Room and showed a level of professionalism and respect to our troops at every rank that I always admired in a leader.We’re entering a new era of shifts of global power. The President-elect deserves the person that he wants to lead our military and national security. I’m confident that Gen. Austin will serve that role capably and honorably. (end) [Tweet Thread, 12/08/20]

Rep. Hank Johnson. @JoeBiden makes historic pick of Lloyd Austin as the first African-American SecDef. Austin is known for respecting civilian leadership & he led the most logistically challenging troop withdrawal since WWII. Great pick! [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Rep. Ro Khanna
Austin is a solid & historic candidate to lead the Pentagon, with experience deferring to civilian leadership + understanding the importance of restraint. Voting against a waiver for him, from those who voted yes on a waiver for Mattis, would have a disparate racial impact. [Tweet, 12/9/20]

Rep. Karen Bass 
We voted on a waiver for Mattis, and I think we need to do it now… I think that the incoming Biden-Harris administration is going to have so much work to do to repair and to change all of the chaos that’s been happening over the last four years.  And so I think having someone like Austin be appointed is very important. [Politico, 12/9/20]

Governor Kay IveyCongrats to AL native, ret. four-star @USArmy Gen. Lloyd Austin for being nominated to serve as secretary of defense! AL takes pride in our many military installations, & we know that Gen. Austin will serve our state & nation with great distinction in this historic appointment. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Barbara Leaf, Former Ambassador to the UAE We worked together again when he moved to CENTCOM and I was DepAsstSecState for the Gulf, then US Amb to the UAE. Again, outstanding leadership; but he also constantly weighed advice from his civilian colleagues in the field, who were charged with cross-walking DOD priorities … with larger USG policies. Collaborative, inclusive, and always deeply respectful of civilian expertise and the different but critical and complementary role we civvies played … I support his nom because of who he is, where he’s come from, what he’s done, how he leads, what he’s ready to do … And above all because I’m confident … he will know how to mentally doff the uniform and wear the mantel of a civilian official executing inherently “political” responsibilities … [Twitter Thread, 12/8/20]

Evelyn Farkas, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Bravo @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris for nominating #LloydAustin for @DeptofDefense.  This tells our allies, partners and enemies we are serious about our democracy — strength from diversity. And it says the same to US military and civilians at DOD and beyond. [Tweet, 12/9/20]

Patrick Murphy, Former Undersecretary of the Army Proud of @JoeBiden’s Secretary of Defense. Deployed to Iraq w General Lloyd Austin back in 2003, I w the @82ndABNDiv & he leading the charge w @3rd_Infantry He was the first Black Division Commander, Vice Chief, CENTCOM CDR & now SecDef – Leader of Character our nation needs now [Tweet, 12/09/20]

J Street Austin has a distinguished record of leadership that would serve him well as Secretary of Defense. We congratulate him on the nomination & look forward to hearing more during the confirmation process about his view that military force must only be used as a last resort. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Mara Rudman, Center for American Progress “Gen. Austin’s vast knowledge and experience make him the right person to take on the Pentagon’s growing challenges: escalating competition with China, the status of residual combat forces in the Middle East, a new technology wave that moves more operations into the domain of computers, and a deadly pandemic. The president-elect has signaled his confidence in Gen. Austin; it is critical for the commander in chief to have a strong relationship with the senior official responsible for the day-to-day guidance of the armed forces of the United States. And this nomination of the first African American to lead the Defense Department is a long-overdue moment in our nation’s history.” [Statement, 12/8/20]

Foreign Policy for America
Congratulations to Gen. Lloyd Austin, nominated to be the first Black Secretary of Defense. We look forward to his leadership of the Pentagon at a transformational time, as the country deals with the pandemic, climate crisis, economic crisis, and racial injustice. [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Steve Schwab, CEO of the Dole Foundation We @DoleFoundation are very pleased with the nomination of General Lloyd Austin. He is a great servant leader and a selfless American who is passionate about serving our troops and their families. Kudos to team @Transition46 and @JoeBiden for this excellent choice! [Tweet, 12/8/20]

Bishop Garrison, Human Rights First
Fantastic speech from Secretary-Designate Austin today. Without doubt, he will need to demonstrate he means every word of it for all interested stakeholders watching, but this is a great introduction for him to the country as DoD’s next leader. [Tweet, 12/9/20]

Additionally, while I have my concerns, just as many, about what this may mean for the civ-mil divide, I am reassured that someone with such character & integrity was selected, & that a Black man will finally lead the department when more than 40% of those in uniform are diverse. [Tweet, 12/9/20]
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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