In an article published by The Atlantic magazine, US president-elect Joseph Biden announced he had chosen retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary.
In an article, headlined ‘Why I Chose Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense,’ Biden says: "We need a leader who is tested, and matched to the challenges we face in this moment."
In his words, Austin "played a crucial role in bringing 150,000 American troops home from the theater of war."
"Pulling that off took more than just the skill and strategy of a seasoned soldier. It required Austin to practice diplomacy, building relationships with our Iraqi counterparts and with our partners in the region," Biden continued. "He served as a statesman, representing our country with honor and dignity and always, above all, looking out for his people."
"Today, I ask Lloyd Austin to once more take on a mission for the United States of America - this time as the secretary-designate of the Department of Defense. I know he will do an outstanding job," the president-elect said.
Austin retired more than four years ago, but, according to US laws, an officer must have left the service at least seven years before becoming secretary of defense, TASS reports.
"But I hope that Congress will grant a waiver to Secretary-designate Austin, just as Congress did for Secretary Jim Mattis. Given the immense and urgent threats and challenges our nation faces, he should be confirmed swiftly," Biden said.
Austin led the US Central Command in 2013-2016. If his candidacy is approved by the Senate, he will become the first African American to head the Pentagon.
The US presidential election was held on November 3. Major US media outlets project that the Democratic contender Joe Biden has presumptively won the presidential election, securing over 270 electoral votes. Incumbent US President Donald Trump is challenging the current outcome, claiming irregularities in the ballot processing in key swing states, and has filed lawsuits to fight his case in court. The US General Services Administration acknowledged Biden’s win, formally informing him that they are ready to transfer the budget funds required to begin the transition process in the run-up to his inauguration. The inauguration ceremony is planned for January 20.