Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense

Lloyd Austin

Secretary of Defense

Lloyd James Austin III was born in August 1953 in Mobile, Alabama. He earned an undergraduate degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and later earned an M.A. in counselor education from Auburn University’s College of Education. He received an M.B.A. in business management from Webster University and is a graduate of many military-provided educational opportunities. 

His military career began as an infantry officer after graduating from West Point, then he was part of a parachute regiment, serving in the 10th Mountain Division and in several Airborne groups. He served in the multi-national corps in the Iraq war and was deployed to Afghanistan. 

In 2010, Austin became Commanding General of United States Forces Iraq and oversaw the transition from Operation Iraqi Freedom and combat operations to Operation New Dawn and stability operations focused on advising, assisting, and training the Iraqi Security Forces. He became vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army in 2012 and a year later was installed as the commander of United States Central Command. 

He retired from the military in April 2016, after which he joined the board of Raytheon Technologies, a military contractor. 

President Biden nominated Austin to be his Secretary of Defense. After his approval by the Senate, he was sworn into office in January 2021. 

He is married to Charlene Denise Banner Austin. He has two stepsons. He is Catholic. 

In the News…

As the holiday season approaches and all Americans are experiencing rising food and fuel prices, the U.S. military is seeking to ease the strain on service members by increasing the housing allowance in high-price areas and expanding financial education, according to a memo released by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

“The Department will provide immediate relief to alleviate economic insecurity,” he wrote, which he said stems from “food insecurity, extended wait times for housing, drastically reduced housing inventories, and sudden, sharp increases in rental or purchase costs for housing.” 

The department will also extend temporary lodging reimbursement beyond 10 days in areas with housing shortages, allowing service members greater flexibility in finding a place to live. In addition, the DOD will launch the “Military Leader’s Economic Security Toolkit” to help officials better understand what resources are available, including how to help troops struggling with food insecurity. 

According to a nonprofit nationwide food bank association, as many as 125,000 active-duty service members, nearly 10 percent of the active-duty force, face food insecurity. Many community organizations are there to help, but some military members may not readily ask for that help. 

“We must also eliminate the stigma that many feel when seeking help, particularly when it comes to accessing food,” Defense Secretary Austin wrote. 


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