Washington, D.C. – President-elect Joe Biden has nominated retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be Secretary of Defense. The two men have known each other for years. Austin was deployed multiple times to Iraq, in a war Senator Biden voted to authorize. Austin also led troops in Iraq in 2008 and 2009 as Biden’s son, Beau, was deployed on Austin’s staff. If confirmed, Austin will become the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history.
On Tuesday, Biden released a statement in The Atlantic about Austin. “He is the person we need in this moment. The next secretary of defense will need to immediately quarterback an enormous logistics operation to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines widely and equitably. Austin oversaw the largest logistical operation undertaken by the Army in six decades—the Iraq drawdown.”
Although qualified to be the next defense secretary there are some questions regarding possible conflicts of interest. Austin sits on the board of Raytheon Technologies, one of the nation’s largest military contractors. The New York Times reports that Austin also has a business which buys defense firms as investments.
Despite a solid career in military logistics and leadership, will Austin’s business connections short-circuit his confirmation?
Thumbnail Credits – Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP