Joe Biden has nominated Lloyd Austin as defence secretary despite increasing opposition from Senate Democrats
Critics have reaised questions over the retired general’s recent military service and his suitability for the job
Breitbart reports: In order to get Austin confirmed, Congress would have to grant Austin a waiver from a law that requires a defense secretary be out of uniform for at least seven years, aimed at upholding the principle of civilian leadership of the armed forces.
The waiver has only been granted twice in history.
Once for Army Gen. (Ret.) George Marshall, and more recently for Marine Gen. (Ret.) James Mattis. However, 17 Senate Democrats opposed a waiver for Mattis, arguing it undermined the principle of civilian leadership of the Pentagon, and many Democrats and Never Trumpers criticized Trump for appointing Mattis and other retired generals to senior civilian positions in his administration.
During a live-stream event introducing Austin, Biden seemed to go back and forth between touting Austin’s military service and recognizing the importance of civilian leadership of the Pentagon.
Biden said there was a “good reason” for the law that he “fully” understood and respected, but added he would not be asking for the waiver if he did not believe the “moment” in history called for it.
He then criticized President Donald Trump for putting the “civilian military dynamic” under “great stress in the past four years” and argued Austin would work “tirelessly” to get it back on track — but then went back to praising Austin’s service on the battlefield.
I have personally worked with this man. I’ve seen him lead American fighting forces on the field of battle. I’ve also watched him faithfully carry out the orders of the civilian leadership of this nation. There’s no doubt in my mind not any doubt whatsoever whether this nominee will honor and respect and on a day to day basis breathe life into the preeminent principle of civilian leadership over military matters in our nation.
Biden also called Austin “General” no fewer than 12 times — something Democrats had criticized Trump for doing with Mattis and others.
In addition, Biden used military cliches when describing Austin, including as “cool under fire” and a “soldier’s leader.” He thanked Austin’s family for “once again” sharing him with the country.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who also spoke at the live-stream event, also called Austin “General” three times and praised him as “a seasoned, highly decorated, and trailblazing commander.” She said with this nomination, Austin would “continue his service.”
Biden, Austin, and Harris did not take questions, even as some journalists shouted out questions about the waiver.
Biden’s decision to choose a retired general was despite the 2020 Democratic Party platform vowing to end the Trump’s “distortion of civilian and military roles in decision-making.”
“We will reinstate national security policymaking processes that advance competent civilian control,” the platform said.
It is the hypocrisy of Biden’s pick that has an increasing number of Democrats wary.
Already, four Senate Democrats have indicated they will vote against a waiver, according to Axios.