Lloyd Austin is the right nominee for defense secretary and the right leader for this moment
© Greg Nash

As a senior member of Congress and a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, I know the importance of domestic security and the defense of our nation. Retired General Austin, I believe, can bring that balance and that is why he deserves a congressional waiver to become President-elect Biden’s secretary of Defense. I am going to support President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Fauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE’s nomination of retired General Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump Sunday shows: Manchin in the spotlight after pivotal role in coronavirus aid debate Pentagon chief: Response to rocket attack in Iraq will be 'thoughtful' and 'appropriate' MORE as the 28th U.S. secretary of Defense.

First, let me acknowledge that I did not support giving a waiver to General James Mattis to become the secretary of Defense nominated by President Donald J. Trump in 2017. My opposition was not because I did not have respect for General Mattis who might have warranted such a waiver, but it was rather because of the view that I had of the United States military at that time. President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Why is Joe Biden dodging the public and the press? Here's who Biden is now considering for budget chief MORE handed off to the Trump administration a military that was strong in morale and a stable organization. After all, the military under his command was able to capture our greatest enemy — Osama bin Laden. His capture was an enormous boost to the Pentagon and to the overall military rank and file. Military personnel and families were treated with dignity and their needs were responded to expeditiously. Certainly, improvement could have been made, but generally the United States military was in very good shape. On the other hand, in 2020, my concern is that throughout the last four years the military has been under attack by negative comments on generals and by a succession of secretaries of Defense. There is a great need to bring in a person who can first of all boost the morale of our men and women in uniform who sacrifice their lives on behalf of the people of this nation, and their families every day. Secondarily, now we need stability and a firm hand that shows the balance between the needs of the military and guidance as a civilian leader. I believe after listening to Mr. Austin in our conversation, it is clear that his view of the role of the secretary of Defense is solidly based on the fact that the Commander in Chief is his boss and will be the guiding force on the policies and on the vision for action. This is a time for impeccable leadership to bring about a morality boost and stability to our men and women in uniform. And for that reason, I truly believe this is a distinct and different time, and that General Austin who has been a civilian for a good period of time knows the role of a civilian leader and will act accordingly. I believe more that this is the right decision at the right time.

Lloyd Austin, a retired General, is an accomplished and respected trailblazer in the United States Army. He is a trusted and crisis-tested leader who has broken barriers in his historic ascent to the highest ranks of the military. With more than 40 years of service, Retired General Lloyd Austin is a deeply experienced and highly decorated commander who has served with distinction in several of the Pentagon’s most crucial roles. He is a son of the South born in Mobile, Ala., and grew up in Thomasville, Ga. He graduated from West Point United States Military Academy and later earned degrees from Auburn University, Webster University, the Army Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.

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Mr. Lloyd Austin was promoted to Lieutenant General in 2006 and assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg. And in 2009 he handed over his command to become the Director of the Joint Staff. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2016 as the first African American to serve as Commander of CENTCOM, the U.S. Central Command, where he oversaw America’s military strategy and joint operations throughout the Middle East and in Afghanistan.

He was the chief architect of the military campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and became the second highest ranking commander in Iraq, taking command of the Multi-National Corps — Iraq.

Mr. Lloyd Austin is highly decorated with many awards and decorations including medals for Defense Distinguished Service Medals, Army Distinguished Service Medals, a Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medals, and a Legion of Merit medal.

If confirmed, Lloyd Austin will become the first African American secretary of Defense which culminates a barrier-breaking career as the first African American general officer to command an Army Division in combat, to lead a Corps in combat, to command an entire theater of war, and to serve as Commander of U.S. Central Command.

Secretary-designate Austin has proven and demonstrated extraordinary leadership across a lifetime of distinguished service and is well prepared to lead our nation’s military as a strong and dedicated civilian leader.

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The nation needs a leader over the Pentagon that respects civilian control, to build up morale of our armed forces, and bring consistency, stability, and leadership at the highest level to the Department of Defense. That is Lloyd Austin, retired General. Further, as an African American woman, I believe this historic moment will further heal and unify the nation.

Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin has previously been confirmed by the Senate because of his impeccable commitment to duty and his reputation. As a proud American who loves his country just as much out of uniform as in uniform, he deserves a waiver by the Congress and deserves to be confirmed for this critical role of overseeing our military forces and protecting our great nation. Retired General Lloyd Austin is an example of why America is still that “shining city on the hill” and why he should be confirmed by the United States Senate for secretary of Defense. Retired General Lloyd Austin is the right person for this right and momentous time in our nation’s history.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee is a Democrat from Texas’s 18th Congressional District. She is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Budget, and serves as a Chief Deputy Whip during the 117th Congress.