Auburn alumnus selected to be next U.S. secretary of defense

Auburn alumnus selected to be next U.S. secretary of defense
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III (Source: Auburn University)

AUBURN, Ala. (WBRC) - An Auburn alumnus and member of Auburn University’s Board of Trustees has been chosen to serve as the next U.S. secretary of defense.

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate retired four-star Army general Lloyd J. Austin to be secretary of defense, according to four people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Austin would become the nation’s first African American leader of the Pentagon.

According to Auburn University: Austin was commissioned as an Infantry second lieutenant in 1975 upon graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. Through the decades, he rose among the ranks and broke down barriers. His 41 years of service most recently included him being commander of U.S. Central Command from March 2013 through March 2016. In that role, he was responsible for the 20-county Central Region that includes Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He was also the Combined Forces commander in Iraq and Syria.

“Gen. Austin epitomizes the best Auburn has to offer in character, public service and real-world expertise,” said Wayne Smith, president pro tem of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. “If he is ultimately selected and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I’m confident he will again serve our nation with great distinction.”

Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and holds master’s degrees from Auburn University in education and Webster University in business management. Gen. Austin has served with great distinction on Auburn University’s Board of Trustees since 2017 and has received Auburn’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He is an esteemed leader on a global scale, having earned five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.

His wife, Charlene, is also a graduate of Auburn University, and they have two sons.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.