• Our 360 Staff

Biden may tap Alabamian, first African-American, to lead Defense

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Update: According to multiple national news sources, Biden will announce his nomination Dec. 8.

WASHINGTON—As President-elect Joe Biden begins to fill out his administration, an Alabamian might have one of the top spots. Axios reported that retired four-star General Lloyd Austin is being considered as his nominee for Department of Defense Secretary. With Austin being on the shortlist, which also includes a handful of other minority candidates, it is likely America’s first African-American Defense Secretary will be named.

General Austin has deep Alabama ties. Born in Mobile in 1953, he graduated from West Point in 1975 before earning a Master of Counselor Education from Auburn University in 1986.

Towards the end of his career, Austin led the US Central Command for three years, which put him in charge of US forces in the volatile Middle East. In 2017, he was named to the Auburn University Board of Trustees when the Alabama State Senate voted to confirm him to the seat which expires in 2024.

The news comes as influential Representative James Clyburn from South Carolina told The Hill that Biden needs to do a better job appointing Black people to his Cabinet. Clyburn played an instrumental role in helping South Carolina’s Democratic Primary swing back towards Biden after he suffered defeats to Senator Bernie Sanders in earlier contests.

As for the rest of Biden’s picks, many are Obama-era veterans who will be bringing a more academic approach, one laden with previous government experience to their positions as compared to Trump’s cabinet. Among the key nominations previously announced:

  • State— Anthony Blinken, former deputy national security adviser and Deputy Secretary of State under President Obama, was nominated to become Secretary of State.

  • Treasury—Janet Yellen was named the Treasury Secretary nominee after previously being the chair of the Federal Reserve.

  • Homeland Security—Alejandro Mayorkas is Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas helped draft the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program under President Obama and will likely see to the rolling back of strict immigration rules put in place by President Trump. He will also be the first Latino to ever lead the relatively new Department.

Biden has has filled out his White House senior communications team by appointing an all-female staff.

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