A retired four-star army general, 67 year-old Lloyd Austin, has been chosen to be Biden’s defense secretary. If confirmed by the US Senate, Austin would be the first black in that role. If Austin becomes the defense secretary, it will not be his first accomplishment as a black soldier. He was the first American-African general to be in charge of a war operation in Iraq and the first to command an army division in combat. Austin was also the first black general to take charge of CENTCOM, the US. Central Command, where he was in a position to play a critical role in the US defense mechanism.

Austin who retired in 2016 will have to seek Congressional waiver since his retirement is less than seven years. A US provision forbids military personnel who have been retired less than seven years to hold political positions. Such a nominee would have to obtain a Congressional waiver to proceed to Senate confirmation.

Many in President-elect Biden’s inner circle are said to be pleased with Austin’s nomination being the first black and perhaps more importantly, being tested on the battle field. They believe he has the credential, experience and the goodwill to be confirmed by the Senate. Biden has said that his cabinet would reflect America’s diversity and has thus far appointed minorities to important posts, including the Department of Homeland Security, to be headed by a Hispanic, Alejandro Mayorkas, if confirmed.

-The Political Scientist

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