Lloyd Austin needs to lead DOD

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I will get to the point immediately. Lloyd Austin is an outstanding selection to become our nation’s next secretary of defense and the U.S. Senate should confirm him.

Indeed, Austin’s nomination from President-elect Biden comes with a caveat: He needs a congressional waiver to serve as the leading defense official in the government. Austin retired four years ago from the U.S. Army; federal law requires that defense secretaries need to have been out of the military at least seven years.

Austin served with honor and distinction. He was a four-star general. He led the Central Command before retiring from the Army. He has led men and women in combat. Austin would become the nation’s first African-American defense secretary.

I get the need to ensure civilian control of the military. Thus, Austin is now “Mr. Austin,” not “Gen. Austin.” He is a civilian.

Congress granted a waiver for Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, James Mattis, who needed the exemption because his service in the Marine Corps fell within the seven-year window. Mattis served well as defense secretary until he resigned in a major snit with the commander in chief.

I should note that my hope would be that future defense secretaries shouldn’t require the waiver that Austin will need. Future presidents, or even the president who’s about the take office, should be able to find competent, capable patriots to lead our military services who do not have the conflict that confronts Lloyd Austin.

Lloyd Austin, though, is highly regarded by the individuals who served under his command. The waiver should be granted. President-elect Biden needs a defense secretary he can trust. He found one in Lloyd Austin.

Let this patriot serve the nation.