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…

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the United States has seen no evidence of genocide being committed by the Israeli military against Hamas in Gaza. 

During the committee hearing, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked the defense secretary whether Israel was committing genocide. Secretary Austin stated, “We don’t have any evidence of genocide being created.”

When Senator Cotton asked if that was a “no,” the defense secretary again stated, “We don’t have evidence of that.‘

Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi asked if what Hamas did could be considered genocide. “What we witnessed on Oct. 7, Senator, was a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas,” Secretary Austin answered, adding that it “certainly is a war crime.” 

Senator Wicker also asked Secretary Austin if Hamas would cease attacks against Israel if that nation stopped fighting against it. The defense secretary replied, “I seriously doubt that.“


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