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…

One year after a botched U.S. drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians during the military withdrawal from that country, the Pentagon unveiled an action plan that is intended to mitigate civilian harm during U.S. military operations. 

The 36-page plan, issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, outlines steps the Department of Defense will take to improve how it mitigates and responds to civilian harm, including sweeping changes at every level of military planning and war-fighting tactics like attacks on satellites and computer systems. 

“The protection of civilians is a strategic priority as well as a moral imperative,” Secretary Austin said in the memo. 

“Our efforts to mitigate and respond to civilian harm directly reflect our values and also directly contribute to achieving mission success,“ the defense secretary stated. “The excellence and professionalism in operations essential to preventing, mitigating, and responding to civilian harm is also what makes us the world’s most effective military force. It is therefore critical that we continue to improve our efforts to mitigate the harm that armed conflict visits upon civilians.” 


Back to top