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Biden Expected To Nominate Gen. Lloyd Austin As Defense Secretary

Gen. Lloyd Austin addresses military recruits during an induction ceremony in Tampa, Fla., in 2015.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
Gen. Lloyd Austin addresses military recruits during an induction ceremony in Tampa, Fla., in 2015.

Updated at 9:25 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden plans to name Lloyd Austin, the retired U.S. Army four-star general, as his pick for secretary of defense in his incoming administration, two sources familiar with the decision confirmed to NPR.

Austin joins a growing and diverse list of nominees for Biden's cabinet, which the president-elect has said he wants to reflect the diversity of America. If confirmed, Austin would be the first African American to lead the department.

Austin brings to the table decades of military experience and had previously led the U.S. Central Command.

A third source familiar with the discussions said Biden came to trust Austin and his experience during Situation Room briefings over the years when Austin was head of Centcom.

The source says Austin emerged as the leading candidate over the course of the past week, noting Austin had "broken barriers" during his rise in the military. "He also appreciated that General Austin knows the human costs of war first-hand," said the source, who was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The news was first reported by Politico.

To be confirmed, Austin — who retired from the military in 2016 — will need a waiver from a law that requires the secretary of defense to be a civilian with at least seven years of retirement from the military. That waiver has been granted only twice before: once for President Trump's first secretary, James Mattis, and in 1950 for George Marshall, the top general during World War II.

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Franco Ordoñez
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.
Carrie Johnson
Carrie Johnson is NPR's National Justice Correspondent.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise covers race and identity for NPR's National Desk.
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