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Biden defends Pentagon pick

作者:admin 2020-12-12

Biden defends Pentagon pick

New Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin speaks during a change of command ceremony at Camp Victory U.S. military base in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 1, 2010.(Photo: Xinhua)

US President-elect
Joe Biden defended his barrier-breaking pick for defense secretary Wednesday before what could be a tough confirmation process, arguing that retired general Lloyd Austin will combine military experience and civilian oversight at the Pentagon.

At a press event in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden described Austin as "the definition of duty, honor, country" as he called on the Senate to make an exception to the law requiring any officer who heads the department be out of military service at least seven years.

Austin, a 67-year-old four-star general, was US commander in Iraq and then head of the US Central Command covering all of the Middle East from 2010 to 2016.

"I believe in the importance of civilian control of the military. So does the secretary designate," said Biden.

"So just as they did for secretary Jim Mattis, I ask the Congress to grant a waiver for Secretary-designate Austin."

The law has been waived only twice before when President Donald Trump nominated Mattis as defense secretary.

Overcoming that barrier will require a waiver from Congress, but a handful of Democrats including senators Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Duckworth and Jon Tester have already said they would vote against the waiver.

House Democrat Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA analyst, said on Tuesday that while she respects Austin, his confirmation would "contravene" the essential principle of civilian control of the military.

Austin, who would be the Pentagon's first black leader, said he would bring military experience to the role along with "a deep appreciation and reverence for the prevailing wisdom of civilian control of our military."

Biden, who becomes the nation's 46th president on January 20, said Austin's intimate knowledge of the Pentagon makes him "uniquely suited for the challenges we face now, the crisis we face now."

The Democrat worked with Austin in Iraq, when he traveled there as vice president, and said he was impressed by Austin's command of troops.

"He's the definition of duty, honor, country," Biden said. "He's cool under fire, inspiring the same in all those around him."

AFP

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