Biden has tapped retired four star Army Gen. and former commander of CENTCOM Lloyd Austin to be his Secretary of Defense, with the formal nomination expected to be announced later in the day Tuesday.
Politico, which was the first to report it late Monday, highlighted that not only was President-Elect Biden under growing pressure to tap a black person for the top Pentagon post, but he was also strongly considering former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for the job.
This also after Obama's former Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy - considered a strong frontrunner and previously the focus widespread media speculation for the job - apparently proved too controversial and divisive, angering progressive Democrats as a top prospect given the Booz Allen Hamilton board member's past record of helping the US to escalate the war in Afghanistan to cheerleading the US-NATO intervention in Libya.
Biden reportedly offered the job to 67-year old Austin on Sunday and the retired general accepted. He'll be the first Black person to lead the Pentagon and previously broke multiple barriers in that regard while serving in the Army, for example he was the first Black general to command an Army division during, as noted in Politico.
"A person familiar with Biden’s decision said the president-elect chose Austin because he is crisis-tested and respected across the military," Politico described further. "Biden also trusts Austin, as they worked together when Biden served as vice president and had a large foreign policy portfolio."
And as CNN reviews, Biden and Austin have worked closely together during the past Obama administration:
When he was vice president, Biden worked with Austin in a variety of positions, most prominently when he was commander of CENTCOM from 2013 to 2016, during which they had discussions on a range of issues including the Middle East and Central and South Asia. Before that, but still during Biden's time as vice president, Austin was vice chief of staff of the Army and commanding general of US forces in Iraq.
"They've known each other for a long time," the source said. "There's a comfort level." The source said that "the historic nature of the pick is something Biden is excited about. Especially given the history of the US military being barrier breakers in a lot of areas."
One inside source told CNN further that Gen. Austin "knows the Pentagon inside and out" and would be "an excellent person to run logistics on Covid-19 vaccine distribution."
Gen. Lloyd Austin once admitted in congressional testimony that after all the money the Pentagon spent on arming and training “moderate rebels,” only about 4 or 5 went on to fight ISIS. The implication being that many joined ISIS or Nusra. https://t.co/gMHm6NYcMY https://t.co/z5g5l07ZKj— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) December 8, 2020
Among the controversial aspects to Austin being tapped by the incoming administration is that he is also a member of the board of directors for the war profiteering corporation Raytheon, where he went immediately after his military career.
Breaking News: Joe Biden plans to tap retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to be his defense secretary. He would be the first African-American to lead the Pentagon. https://t.co/3Tfq1spY3l— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 8, 2020
Raytheon spends millions of dollars a year actively lobbying the US government to advance policies which are beneficial to the multibillion-dollar arms manufacturing giant, which of course means lobbying for military expansionism and interventionism. The previous Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also worked for Raytheon, working for years as one of the top corporate lobbyists in DC under the position “Vice President for Government Relations”.
Also, according to Newsweek, he "may face a confirmation process hindered by allegations that, under his command, U.S Central Command downplayed the threat of Islamic State militants while American forces were fighting against them in eastern Syria and northern Iraq."
Further as then commander of CENTCOM Austin oversaw the Pentagon's disastrous "train and equip" program for what the US dubbed "moderate" rebels in Syria, which in fact turned out to be al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked terrorists, many of which handed their weapons over to such groups.