Biden nominates retired general as Defense secretary
President-elect Joe Biden introduces retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as his nominee for secretary of Defense.
whom I have worked closely for many years. I've seen perform for the highest standards under intense pressure, someone who I hold in the highest personal regard as a man of great decency and a man of dignity. In my judgment, there is no question that he is the right person for this job at the right moment, leading the Department of Defense at this moment in our nation's history. He's led major coalitions of allies and partners to fight terrorism, and it took some really diplomatic capacity to get that done. He's overseeing some of the most complex logistical efforts ever undertaken by the United States military, helped end the war and literally bring tens of thousands of troops home safely. He's loved by the men and women of the armed forces feared by our adversaries, known and respected by our allies, and he shares my deeply held belief in the values of America's alliances, and he is just as committed as I am to rebuilding and modernizing those alliance from the Asian Pacific to Europe and around the world. Through sheer determination, extraordinary skill, he's been breaking down barriers, m blazing a trail forward in this nation for many years now for more than 40 years, and he has a long way to go, and he's gonna do it again. And so today I'm honored to nominate former General Lloyd Austin as a 28th secretary of Defense. I want to thank you, general, your friend. But I want to thank you, General Austin, for once more stepping forward to serve your nation. This is not a a post he sought, but I saw him. I want to thank you and your family for once again sharing you with our country. And Thanks, Charlene. Today I know how proud all of they all our view. All four of your Children, your older sisters and your brother. I knew the reason why you're a good man. You had to have sisters raise you along the way, right? I don't mind. Did me? And she's much younger. And your incredible wife, Charlene, and I mean that sincerely. Tomorrow I'm told that Jill and Charlene are going to spend some time together sending off packages to our soldiers abroad. She and Jill are both passionate about supporting military spouses and families now, and I know there will be a powerful advocates for that community together. And you know, they're gonna both be working at the White House and Defense Department together to make sure our families, our cash, said before General America only has many obligation, one sacred obligation to care and equipped those. We send the war, care for their families when they're gone and to care for them when they come home and their families. I got to know General Awesome. During my early days, his vice president, President Obama, had charged me with overseeing the end of Operation Iraqi freedom and ensuring the orderly withdrawal of our forces and equipment from Iraq. General Austin Waas with me on the ground, not just for meetings with troops or for military strategy sessions. He was there when I was working in Iraq. Political leaders. I watched his political skill, how he dealt with them. They respected him across the board when I met with the leaders of our coalition partners the same thing, and he was there during one particularly memorable incident when we were at a meeting at the ambassador's residence in the Green Zone. The insurgents lost launched the rocket attack on the house. Of course, General Austin It was just another day at the office. He just sat there and kept right on going. So I sat there and kept right on going and everyone or what in the hell are they doing? But you know, he's cool under fire, inspiring same and all those around him. That's Lloyd Austin. He was the person President Obama and I, and trusted with the incredible task of bringing home America's forces and redeploying our military equipment safely out of Iraq. It was the largest logistical operation undertaken by the Army in 60 years. Getting it done required much more than military Know how Journal Austin was a diplomat. It was not an easy task. He built relationships with our Iraqi counterparts and with our coalition partners. He was a statesman representing our country with a skill at at that, you know, at tables that I've sat with him with foreign leaders and I wondered whether or not he was from the State Department or from the Defense Department, both military civilians. I'm not exaggerating. Here's a way about him, and always above all, he's looked out for his people. That's why he was known as the soldiers leader in this time in the United States Army, Lloyd Austin met every single challenge with extraordinary skill and profound personal decency. He's the definition of duty, honor, country, and at every step he challenged the institutions that he loves to grow more inclusive and more diversity. He was a 200 person ever to retain the rank of four star general, but only the sixth African American never do that. He was the first African American general officer to lead the Army Corps in combat. He was the first African American to command an entire theater of war. And if confirmed, he'll be the first African American at the helm of the Defense Department and well, over 200 years. Another milestone and he's a barrier breaking career has been like this throughout his career. Lloyd Austin retired from the military service more than four years ago, but the law states that an officer must have left the service seven years before becoming secretary of defense. It was a good reason for this law that I fully understand and respect. I would not be asking for this exception if I had not if I did not believe this moment in our history didn't call for it. It does call for it. And if I didn't have the faith I have in Lloyd Austin Toe ask for it. I believe in the importance of civilian control of the military. So does the secretary designee Austin. He'll be bolstered by a strong and empowered civilian sector and senior officers, senior officials, I should say, working to shape diodes policies and ensure that our defense policies are accountable to the American people. Civilian military dynamic. That dynamic itself has been under great stress the past four years. No, I know that Secretary designee Austin, he's gonna work tirelessly to get it back on track. I have personally worked with this man. I've seen him lead American fighting forces on the field of battle. I've also watched him faithfully carried out the orders of the civilian leadership of this nation. There's no doubt in my mind, not any doubt whatsoever, or this nominee will honor respect and on a day to day basis, breathe life into the preeminent principle of civilian leadership over military matters in our nation. I know this man. I know his respect for our constitution and I always respect for our system of government. So just as they did for Secretary Jim Mattis, I ask the Congress to grant a waiver for secretary designee Austin. His many strengths and his intimate knowledge of the Department of Defense and our government, Ray, I think, are uniquely suited for the challenges we face now. Crisis we face now he is the person we need at this moment of my. And given the urgent threatened challenges of our nation's forces, he should be confirmed swiftly. We need his experience in large scale logistical operations to help support the swift and equitable distribution of covert 19 vaccines. We need to experience building and managing relationships, engaging in diplomacy with our partners, help rebuild America's alliance and strengthen our shared security. And we need his first hand knowledge of the immeasurable costs of war and the burden of places on our service members and their families tell, bring toe on end the Forever wars and ensure that the use of force is the last tool in our toolbox. The last tool resorted to to protect our national security, not the first. We need his deep understanding of the Pentagon to help reform the Defense Department. We need his personal experience helping inform our efforts to ensure that our armed forces reflect the full strength and diversity of our nation. That black, Latino, Asian American, Native American women men, LGBT service members are treated with dignity and respect. You know, at a time when more than 40% of our act more listen, more than 40% of our active duty forces are people of color. It's long past time of the department's leadership reflects that diversity. We need his in depth understanding of what it takes, tow, deter threats wherever they arise and to defend the American people, our vital interests and our allies from harm. Just as he did when he did when he was designated toe lead strategy, they together with a dozen of partner nations, Thio, ultimately crush Isis. If you don't think that requires some diplomatic skill putting that group together, then you don't understand what was going on. He did a heck of a job. Threats we face today are not the same as though he faced 10 years ago or even five years ago. We must prepare to meet the challenges for the future of the future, not keeping not just keeping fighting wars of the past. We must build a foreign policy that leads with diplomacy, revitalizes State Department revitalizes our alliances, putting American leadership back to the table and rallying the world to meet global threats off our security from pandemics to climate change, from nuclear proliferation to refugee crises as part of our diverse national security leadership team. Lloyd Austin knows how to do this work. Before I turn the podium over to the secretary designee Austin, I want to end on a note of personal privilege. As a leader, General Austin has always followed the advice given him by his first platoon sergeant. As my son, Beau Biden was a major in the military said. Now you're feel great, Officer Dad, he said. I don't have any illusions, Dad, he said, I know who runs the United States Army platoon sergeants. And here's what his platoon sergeant told him, Quote, If you focus on your people, take care of them, get out in front and lead them. They'll refuse toe let you fail. End of quote. That's why he's inspired so many young people who work for him and give their very best to live up to his example of leadership, including, for a time, ah, young lawyer serving a year in Iraq. It's a captain with his Delaware National Guard unit. My son, Beau Biden. I know how probable was to serve on the General staff General Lawson staff. And I know that under your leadership, General, the Department of Defense will advance the security of the American people in ways that always, always, always honor our highest values and ideals. So I thank you again. Hello. God bless America and may God protect our troops. And now I'd like to turn it over to General Austin, Secretary designee for the Department of Defense. Mr President Elect and Madam Vice President Elect Harris, Thank you for your trust and your confidence and for the opportunity to serve as a 28th secretary of defense. And it's confirmed by the United States Senate. It will be my sincere honor and privilege to return to the department and to the lead our great service members and civilians in accomplishing the mission of ensuring our nation's security. You know, back in 18 77 ah, young man from the small town of Thomasville, Georgia, Henry Ossian Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and after his commissioning, he was assigned to one of the Army's all black regiments, and he became the first non white officer, too. Lead the Buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry and so fast forward to today, Nearly 150 years later, another native son of Thomasville, Georgia, stands before you as the secretary of defense Designate. Now, many people have paved the way for me and countless others over the years to include Henry O Flipper, and I am supremely grateful to all of them for their courage, for their determination and for the example that they set throughout. And they include the Tuskegee Airman in the Montfort Point, Marines and many others Throughout Throughout my career, I've also been incredibly fortunate to benefit from the support and the mentorship of exceptional leaders like General Colin Powell and Admiral Mike Mullen in General, Johnny Wilson and my old platoon sergeant, who you heard the president elect just talk about, you know, I was a brand new second lieutenant. I'm Sergeant First Class Fox. Ballard took me in and taught me the way of the world, so I owe him and many others a great deal. And as Sir Isaac Newton's famously said, If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. I've been very fortunate tohave the love and support of my family as well. My mother and father, who was postal worker who, along with a number of my uncles and other relatives, spent time in the military and that inspired my own desire to serve. Sure, I've also enjoyed the strong support of my brother and four older sisters, four older sisters and most importantly, most importantly, my bride Charlene, who had been truly lucky tohave by my side all these years. And I am so grateful for her enduring love and for her support. You know, I spent much of my military career tackling tough issues and formidable adversaries and challenging parts of the world and President elect Biden. As you mentioned, we've worked closely together on some tough issues, and we've gotten to know each other under some intense and high pressures situations, and so you can expect that as secretary of Defense that I will give you the same direct and unvarnished counsel that I did back then. I understand the important role of the Department of Defense and the role that it plays in maintaining stability and deterring aggression and defending and supporting critical alliances around the world, including in the Asia Pacific, in Europe and around the world. And I fervently believe that, as you said before, sir, that America is strongest when it works with his allies. And over the years I've worked hand in hand with our diplomatic colleagues and partners around the globe and witnessed firsthand what we're able to accomplish together. And so, if confirmed, I look forward to resuming this important work. My career has taught me something else equally fundamental to who we are as a nation. When I concluded my military service four years ago, I hung up my uniforms for the last time and went from being General Lloyd Austin toe Lloyd Austin. It is an important distinction in one that I make with utmost seriousness and sincerity, and so I come to this role, this new role as a as a civilian leader with military experience, to be sure, but also with a deep appreciation and reverence for the prevailing wisdom of civilian control of our military. I recognize that being a member of the president's Cabinet requires a different perspective and unique responsibilities from a career in the uniforms. And I intend to keep this at the forefront of my mind. And I look forward to surrounding myself with experienced, capable civilian appointees and career civil servants who will enable healthy civil military relations grounded in meaningful civilian oversight. As secretary of defense, my priority will always always be the men and women, military and civilian who make up the department and their families. And I've seen what they're capable of great Americans, like your son, Sir Bo, and also our future first lady, Dr Biden and her tireless work for military families. As the president elect said, Bo was one of the military lawyers on my staff in Iraq, and we stayed in touch and saw each other a few times after he returned home. And as you too, can attest, Madam Vice President elect Bo was a very special person and a true patriot and a good friend to all who knew him. Over the past four decades, I've witnessed our service members and civilians selflessness and patriotism and the extraordinary links that they will go to in support of the mission and in support of one another. And I could not be more proud of them and their families. And if confirmed, it will be the honor of my lifetime to lead them again with honor and integrity. Thank you again, Mr President. Elect and Madam Vice President elect for this opportunity and for your trust and confidence in me, may God bless and keep safe all those currently serving in harm's way. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you. Yeah. Good afternoon. President elect Biden and I will take office at a consequential moment for our country. Even as we work to contain this pandemic and responsibly open our economy, we also need to lead the Defense Department into the future, rebuild and renew global alliances and partnerships and make sure the United States is prepared to address new threats and new challenges from cyber to climate. The fundamental responsibility of our administration and any administration is keeping the American people safe and secure. My whole career has been about keeping Americans safe in the United States. Senate. I have served on the homeland. Security and Intelligence committees have traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East, where I've seen the extraordinary training, commitment and heroism of our service members and proudly represented California, the state with the largest number of active duty military and veterans in our country. And I am absolutely confident that General Lloyd Austin is the right person to lead the Department of Defense. At this critical moment. We need a proven leader to help address this pandemic, someone with the experience to help make sure safe and effective vaccines are distributed equitably toe all a leader who will honor the service and sacrifice of those who wear the uniform of the United States, provide for their well being and make sure they and their families are treated with the dignity and respect they have earned. And a leader who recognizes that our service members represent America around the world and must uphold our nation's highest values and ideals. General Austin is that later, as the president elect noted, this is a milestone nomination. A seasoned, highly decorated and trail blazing commander, General Austin reflects the very best of our nation and president elect Biden and I will work closely with him and our entire team of national security and foreign policy leaders to make sure the United States of America is safer and more secure than ever before. You know, throughout America's history, the United States military has been a home for generations of young men and women dedicated to serving our country, and General Austin is among them. With this nomination, he will continue his service, strengthening not only America's national security but our role as a partner toe allies around the world. And we couldn't be more proud. Thank you. It's the president, not a waiver. General Austin, a waiver 30 general nominee coming problems. All right, one.