WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to nominate retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, a former commander of the American military effort in Iraq, to be the next secretary of defense, according to two people with knowledge of the selection.
If confirmed by the Senate, General Austin would make history as the first African-American to lead the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops and the enormous bureaucracy that backs them up.
General Austin, 67, was for years a formidable figure at the Pentagon, and is the only African-American to have headed U.S. Central Command, the military’s marquee combat command, with responsibility for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria — most of the places where the United States is at war.
General Austin is known as a battlefield commander.
But he is less known for his political instincts — and has sometimes stumbled in congressional hearings, including a session in 2015 when he acknowledged, under testy questioning, that the Defense Department’s $500 million program to raise an army of Syrian fighters had gone nowhere.
Joseph R, Biden, Lloyd J, Austin III, General Austin, —
WASHINGTON, Senate, Pentagon, . Central Command, Defense
Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, United States