U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday formally introduced retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary.
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said Austin is “cool under fire” and called the 67-year-old man the person the country needs “in this moment.”
The president-elect said he has asked Congress to grant a waiver to Austin, who retired in 2016, so that he could take the job, as a U.S. law requires Pentagon chiefs to be out of the military for at least seven years.
Austin, in his remarks later, said that as the leader of the Pentagon, his “priority will always be the men and women, military and civilian, who make up the department, and their families.”
The retired general will be tasked with implementing the Biden administration’s military and defense priorities, while playing a role in executing the logistics associated with COVID-19 vaccine distribution, according to the president-elect’s team.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the former commander of the U.S. Central Command will be the first African American ever to head the Department of Defense.
After military service, Austin served on the boards of U.S. companies, including Raytheon Technologies, a major defense contractor.