General Austin, Joe Biden, Franco discussed on Morning Edition

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I'm David Greene and I'm Noel King. Good morning, President elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate retired four star General Lloyd Austin as his secretary of defense. General, Austin has a long resume more than four decades of experience, and if he's confirmed he would be the first Black American to lead the Pentagon. NPR White House correspondent Franco or Dona is is following this one. Hey, Franco I know. Well, what do you know about General Austin? Well, he's from Mobile, Alabama, and he graduated from West Point. He rose to the military ranks. Serving is the top commander in Iraq and eventually became the commander of the U. S Central Command, which, of course, is in charge of all military operations in the Middle East. He was the first African American to do that as well. You know, he's credited with devising the plan to help defeat the Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. He's not the best known candidate for the job as he's largely remained at the limelight, but he has testified before Congress a bunch of times when Austin retired then president Obama said the general is quote character and competence exemplify what America demands of its military leaders. His retirement is a sticky thing as I understand it because he retired four years ago in 2000 and 16. But those who serve as secretary of defense have usually been retired for longer than that, right? Yeah, that is right by law. It's actually supposed to be seven years before serving his defense secretary he's been at about four He's on Lee, one of lesson of handful of potential nominees to fall out of that time frame. And he's gonna need a waiver from Congress. If he's going to get the job, Trump's first nominee, Jim Mattis, also had to do that. Oh, he says, it could take some work to get him into the position. What do you know? Then about how Joe Biden came to this decision? Well. A source familiar with the president elect's reasoning told me that buying came to trust General Austin during their time together in situation room briefings when buying was vice president and Austin was head of Central Command. Fine. I was also told appreciated that Austin knows quote the human cost of war firsthand on and to be clear. Biden is also under a lot of pressure to make his Cabinet divers and this is part of that. Biden said he wants to his Cabinet toe look like America, and he's been pushed by groups like the end of the P and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. To choose candidates from specific backgrounds. You know, for example, Biden also says he's nominating Javier Airbus era the former California attorney general, a son of an immigrant from Mexico. That he's going to be his health and human services secretary of confirmed General Austin's name just came out last night. Has there been any reaction so far, yet is early General Austin, though, is very well regarded among his colleagues. Former military officials have called him an extraordinary leader and a towering figure. But they're also expressing some concern that he's a general, and some would rather see some civilian control. And they don't want the congressional waiver to become the new norm. That could also be an issue for some members of Congress. That is really interesting if he is confirmed, though, what are the biggest things that he's confronting? Right off the bat? Well, the Trump Administration has announced a major drawdown of U. S troops, including in Afghanistan. It's certainly a different situation than it was during the Obama years when troops surged to around 100,000 in Afghanistan. The numbers are expected to drop to about 2500 by January. And you know his vice president Joe Biden was reluctant to support some increases in troop levels. And, frankly, we don't know where Austin will stand on this. What are his recommendations gonna be on troop levels in Afghanistan? That is something that they're going to have to confront together. MPR's Franco or Dona Is Franco. Thanks so much. Thank you. It's morning edition from NPR News. I'm Noel King. And I'm David Greene. Joe McConnell with traffic.

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