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CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.


Birth date: August 8, 1953

Birth place: Mobile, Alabama

Birth name: Lloyd James Austin III

Father: Lloyd James Austin Jr., postal worker

Mother: Aletia Taylor Austin, homemaker

Marriage: Charlene Denise (Banner) Austin (early 1980s-present)

Children: Reginald Hill (stepson); Christopher Hill (stepson)

Education: United States Military Academy, B.S., 1975; Auburn University, M.E., counselor education, 1986; Webster University, M.A., management and leadership, 1989; War Army College (1996-1997 attended)

Military service: US Army, 1975-2016, four-star general

Other Facts

Has achieved many firsts:

  • The first African American secretary of defense.
  • The first African American to serve as vice chief of staff of the Army.
  • The first African American to lead US Central Command.
  • The first African American to lead an Army corps in combat.
  • The first African American commanding general of a US Army Division.

Awarded numerous decorations for his military service, including five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star for bravery in combat and two Legions of Merit.

Has served on a number of boards of directors including Nucor Corporation, Tenet Healthcare Corporation and United Technologies (now known as Raytheon Technologies Corporation following a 2020 merger).

Served on the board of trustees of Auburn University and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

An athlete in high school, he was captain of his varsity basketball team.


1975 - Austin is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army upon graduation from West Point. Over the next 20 years, he holds a number of leadership positions and is stationed at bases in North Carolina, Indianapolis, New York, Germany and Panama.

1997-1999 - Commander, 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

1999-2001 - Chief, Joint Operations Division, J-3, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.

2001-2003 - Assistant division commander, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq.

2003-2005 - Commanding general, 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York. Includes Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq.

2005-2006 - Chief of staff, US Central Command, Unified Combat Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

2006-2009 - Commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Commander, Multi-National Corps; Operation Iraqi Freedom.

2009-2010 - Office of the Director, Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Department of Defense, Washington, D.C.

2010 - He is promoted to four-star general.

2010-2011 - Commanding general, US Forces-Iraq, US Central Command, Operation New Dawn.

January 31, 2012-March 2013 - Vice Chief of Staff, US Army.

December 6, 2012 - Nominated by President Barack Obama to be the 12th commander of US Central Command.

March 2013-March 2016 - Commander, US Central Command.

April 5, 2016 - Retires from the military.

2016 - Founds the Austin Strategy Group, LLC., with Austin as owner and president. Later declares in a US Office of Government Ethics filing that the consulting business will remain dormant upon his 2021 confirmation as defense secretary.

September 2020-January 22, 2021 - Partner at investment firm Pine Island Capital Partners.

December 8, 2020 - President-elect Joe Biden names Austin as his nominee for secretary of defense, in an op-ed published by the Atlantic.

January 19, 2021 - The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing takes place. Austin addresses concerns about a retired general assuming the top civilian post at the Pentagon, “If confirmed, I will carry out the mission of the Department of Defense, always with the goal to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, and I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended.” He also pledges to fight to rid the department of “racists and extremists.”

January 21, 2021 - Both chambers of Congress approve a waiver to permit Austin to serve as secretary of defense, as the law requires a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the position. This is the second such waiver. The first was granted to James Mattis in 2017.

January 22, 2021 - In a 93-2 vote, the Senate confirms Austin to be the first African American defense secretary.

February 2, 2021 - Austin dismisses hundreds of members of 42 Pentagon advisory boards, as the Pentagon announces a review of the boards’ memberships. Those members, appointed by the Pentagon, include late appointments by the Donald Trump administration.

February 2, 2021 - Austin orders a staggered pause of operations across the US military so commanders can have “needed discussions” with service members about the issue of extremism over the next 60 days, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby announces.

February 16, 2021 - Writes a Washington Post op-ed to underline that, under the Biden Administration, the US is back in full support of NATO and the US’ traditional role in defense of Europe.

March 21, 2021 - Travels to Afghanistan on his first visit to the country as the United States’ top defense official, meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other officials.

April 30, 2021 - In his first major policy speech, Austin stresses the importance of emerging technology and the rapid increases in computing power to push the military into the future, laying out a vision of warfare starkly different from how “the last of the old wars” of the past two decades were fought.

June 22, 2021 - Austin announces he will recommend to Biden a change in the military justice system to take the prosecution of sexual assaults out of the hands of commanders.

January 2, 2022 - According to a statement from Austin released by the Defense Department, he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is exhibiting “mild” symptoms.

April 24, 2022 - Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken make an unannounced trip to Kyiv and meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.