President-elect Joe Biden to name former general Lloyd Austin III as US defence secretary

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to name retired Gen Lloyd Austin III as US secretary of defence. He will become the first Black person to hold the top Pentagon job if confirmed. Austin, a four-star general, is the only African American to head the vaunted US Central Command with responsibility.

Austin retired in 2016 and his nomination, and confirmation by US Senate, will require a congressional waiver of a law that mandates a cooling off period of seven years for US military personnel to head the Pentagon.

It would be a second time for this to be done in recent years. James Mattis, who was outgoing President Donald Trump’s first secretary of defence, needed a waiver as well in 2017; he had retired in 2013. His last assignment was head of the Central Command. He was succeeded by Austin. The 2+2 India-US ministerial dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries, the third edition of which was held in New Delhi this October, has emerged as the key driver of the relationship, between summit-level meetings.

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