Former secretary of State Colin Powell applauded President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' MORE for selecting Gen. Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia GOP lawmakers press administration on US weapons left behind in Afghanistan Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE to serve as his secretary of Defense.
"President-elect Joseph Biden is making a superb choice in selecting General Lloyd Austin to be the next Secretary of Defense," Powell said in a statement posted to his Facebook page on Wednesday. "General Austin has served splendidly at all combat and civilian levels in the Armed Forces. He has demonstrated his warfighting skills and his bureaucratic, diplomatic and political acumen."
Biden said in announcing his nomination that Austin is "uniquely qualified to take on the challenges and crises we face in the current moment."
Austin would be the first Black Defense secretary after serving as the commander of U.S. Central Command from 2013 until his retirement in 2016.
"Being older than him, I watched him closely and served as a mentor," Powell said. "Congress should have no concern in waiving the requirement that he serve at least seven years in civilian life after retiring before accepting the Secretary of Defense position."
Federal law requires secretaries of Defense to be out of active service for at least seven years. Several Senate Democrats have expressed hesitation at passing a waiver allowing Austin to serve as Pentagon chief, as Congress did in 2017 for Gen. James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump's 'Enemies List' — end of year edition The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE.
Powell said Austin's "civilian business experience in retirement expands his capability" to manage the Defense Department.
"He knows troops and they know and respect him," Powell said. "They will be a great team."