BLUF

The newly appointed US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is a much respected, retired four-star general who brings high-level military and diplomatic skills to his new role.

Summary

Lloyd Austin is the first African American Secretary of Defense and was the first African American to lead an Army corps in combat (Iraq). He is a former four-star general who will now oversee a defence budget of over $US 700 billion. On leaving the Army, he served on several boards of directors. Under US Law, active duty service personnel must wait seven years before being appointed Secretary of Defense; however, Congress can grant a waiver. In the last administration, President Trump's appointment of General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense also required Congress to grant a waiver—which they did. General Austin's waiver was approved by the Senate 93 for, with only two against—clearly demonstrating the respect that Congress has for General Austin. President Biden's stated reasons for Austin's appointment were:
  • Reacts well under pressure.
  • Understands the importance of strong civil-military relationships.
  • Able to ensure diversity in the armed forces. 
  • Supports the well-being of service members and their families.
  • Ability to oversee rapid COVID-19 Vaccine distribution.
  • Possesses strong diplomatic skills.