Biden chose retired general Lloyd Austin to head the Pentagon. If confirmed, the retired general will be the first black secretary of defense in history.
Biden chose a former four-star officer who was the first African-American general to command an army division in combat and the first to control the entire theater. Austin, who also commanded U.S. Central Command before resigning in 2016, has become one of the top candidates in recent days.
Michel Flournois, a former high-ranking Pentagon official under Barack Obama, was originally asked to fill the post, but it did not appear on the list of possible candidates 2 weeks ago.
“General Austin is a southerner, has an impeccable reputation, given his military career, and could have been an outstanding secretary of the ministry,” Benny Thompson, a member of the House of Representatives close to Biden, told POLITICO.
The man familiar with Biden’s decision said the elected president chose Austin because he passed a crisis test and is respected in the military. Biden also trusts Austin because they worked together when Biden was vice president, and they had a large package of foreign policy responsibilities.