Lloyd James Austin, a retired major general from the US Army, was born in 1953, the first American of African descent to be appointed head of the US Department of Defense (Pentagon). He made his military reputation from his successful leadership in the 3rd Infantry Division's attack on and capture of Baghdad in April 2003.
He is described as “the mastermind behind the attack on Baghdad”, and during his military career he was known as the silent general, but he was not silent on the political level as he headed the Pentagon in light of the major military conflicts across the world, especially the Russian war on Ukraine, and the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.
Birth and upbringing
Lloyd James Austin was born on August 3, 1953 in the city of Mobile in the state of Alabama in the southeastern region of the United States, to a family of African origins.
His father, Lloyd James Austin Jr., was a postal worker, and his mother, Eletia Taylor Austin, was a housewife. He grew up in Thomasville, Georgia.
In the 1980s, he married Charlene Denise Banner, with whom he has children Reginald Hill and Christopher Hill.
Study and scientific training
Austin received his high school diploma from Thomasville High School and completed his undergraduate education at the United States Military Academy, graduating in June 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree.
He then earned a Master of Arts in Counselor Education from Auburn University in 1986, and a Master of Business Administration from Webster University in 1989.
In addition to his academic career, Austin graduated from the Basic and Advanced Infantry Officer Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.
Political and practical experience
Austin began his military duties in 1975 at American bases in East Germany, where he was appointed as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Infantry Battalion.
He rose to military positions and missions for several years, and his early duties included serving in various battalions and brigades of the US Army.
In 1981, he was appointed to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was the operations officer in the US Army Recruitment Command. He was then given command of a company in the Recruitment Battalion, and after completing this mission he joined the university for postgraduate studies.
General Austin returned to Fort Bragg in 1993 and served as Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He was subsequently appointed commander of the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, from 1997 to 1999.
Following his service at Fort Bragg, he was assigned to the Pentagon where he served as Chief of the Joint Operations Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1999 to 2001.
He served as assistant division commander in the 3rd Infantry Division in both Georgia and…Iraq From July 2001 until June 2003, his division led the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, seized control of Baghdad International Airport, and took control of the Iraqi capital during The American invasion of Iraq.
He became the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in New Yorkand joint mission commander in the 180th Division in Afghanistan from September 2003 to August 2005.
In September 2005, Austin became Chief of Staff of the United States Central Command under the former US President George BushAustin remained as Chief of Staff until November 2006, after which he became Commander-in-Chief of the 18th Airborne Corps in December of the same year.
Austin returned to Iraq and, in addition to his duties, assumed command of the Multinational Corps there from February 2008 to April 2009.
The general moved to office work again upon his return to the United States of America and his appointment as Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon for a year starting in August 2009.
He returned to Iraq in September 2010 as Commander-in-Chief of the American forces there, where he supervised the coalition forces and the process of the withdrawal of American forces, which was completed in December 2011.
He then served as the 33rd Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army from January 2012 to March 2013, during which, specifically in December 2012, former US President Barack Obama nominated him to be the 12th Commander of the US Central Command, to assume the position for a period of three years that began in March 2013.
During which he supervised the development and implementation of military strategy and joint operations throughout the countryFor the Middle East Central and South Asia. He also supervised the military campaign against Islamic State organization In Iraq and Syria.
Austin retired from the army in April 2016, and moved to work in the private sector. He founded the Austin Strategic Group, LLC, and was its owner and president. In addition, he became a member of the boards of directors of a number of American companies, and he also became a partner in a number of American companies. He remained in the private sector until 2020
On December 8, 2020, the US President nominated him joe biden For the position of Minister of Defense, and on January 21, 2021, Congress approved a waiver allowing Austin to serve as Minister of Defense due to the existence of a law that requires the Minister of Defense to complete 7 years of active service in the army before assuming the ministry. And he voted Senate The next day by a vote of 93 to 2 in favor of Austin, who became the first African American Secretary of Defense.
Austin was known as a strong advocate of the strategy of “dealing with local forces” to resolve internal disputes in countries where American forces are deployed, as happened in the Iraqi Anbar Governorate, through “awakening councils.” Syrian Democratic Forces.
He is a supporter of permanent cooperation with the historical allies of the United States, and was opposed to the withdrawal of the administration of President Donald Trump from the Iranian nuclear agreement, because he considered that the withdrawal deprives Washington of the opportunity to monitor and control Iranian nuclear activity according to what the agreement provides.
When nominating Austin for the Department of Defense, Biden said that he is “uniquely qualified to confront the challenges and crises we face today.”
His position on the Gaza war
Since the beginning Al-Aqsa flood And the war that Israel has waged on the Gaza Strip since October 7, 2023. Austin pledged to provide more military support to Israel to enhance its capabilities to confront the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), and acknowledged the solidity of American support for Israel, and revealed that America is seeking to ensure everything Israel needs. To defend herself, as he put it.
The day after the Al-Aqsa flood, Austin gave an order to move the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean in support of Israel, stressing the rapid movement that his country is making to provide Israel with equipment and all additional resources.
Austin visited Tel Aviv at the beginning of the war on the Gaza Strip in October 2023, and met with Israeli leaders, and also attended a war council meeting. At the end of the same month, the New York Times reported on American officials saying that Israel had changed its invasion and attack plans and focused them on what Austin suggested to them.
Austin stated on October 22 that his country would take action against those who try to expand the conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.
Austin's position did not change during the months of the war. At the beginning of December 2023, he stated that the United States would not allow Hamas to win, and that supporting Israel was non-negotiable. At the same time, he warned Israel of a strategic defeat if it did not commit to protecting civilians in the Strip.
In the middle of the same month, during his second visit to Tel Aviv during the war on Gaza, Austin confirmed – in a press conference held there with his Israeli counterpart – that Washington would continue to support Israel with weapons and ammunition during its war on Gaza, and that Israel’s security was linked to the dismantling of Hamas. He also indicated that his country No time period was suggested for ending the military operation, and that this war is an “Israeli operation.”
Austin is hospitalized
At the beginning of January 2024, Austin was hospitalized as a result of complications resulting from non-emergency medical work. He remained in intensive care for 4 days. Austin did not inform the US President, the Department of Defense, or any high-ranking official of his admission to the hospital until 3 days later. Which sparked controversy over the matter, especially since hiding his health status for several days is a violation of the protocol adopted in similar cases.
Austin's illness coincided with his deputy's leave, which exacerbated the situation in light of the absence of the commander and his deputy. Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder denied Austin's resignation as a result of his health illness.
In a statement issued on January 6, 2024, Austin acknowledged that he could have acted better, and at the same time pledged to do better, confirming his return to the Pentagon soon, without specifying a specific date.
Jobs and responsibilities
In the military field
- An operations officer in the Indianapolis District Recruiting Department, then a company commander in the US Army Recruiting Battalion in 1981.
- Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division in 1993.
- Commander of the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1997 to 1999.
- Head of the Joint Operations Department of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1999 to 2001.
- Assistant squad leader in the 3rd Infantry Division from 2001 to 2003.
- Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division, and Joint Task Force Commander of the 180th Division in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005.
- Chief of Staff of United States Central Command from 2005 to 2006.
- Commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq from 2008 to 2009.
- Commander-in-Chief of US forces in Iraq in 2010.
- 33rd Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army from 2012 to 2013.
- The 12th Commander of US Central Command from 2013 to 2016.
- The first African-American Secretary of Defense since 2021.
In the private sector
- Owner, founder and director of Austin Strategic Group LLC in 2016.
- Director of the “Guest Services” hotel management company.
- Member of the Board of Directors of United Technologies.
- Member of the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization called the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
- Member of the Board of Directors of Tenet Healthcare Company.
- Partner at Penn Island Capital Partners.
- Member of the Advisory Board of Fidelity Investment.
Medals and honors
Austin received a number of honors and accolades, including:
- Five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the nation's highest non-combat military award.
- Three Defense Superior Service Medals and two Merit Medals.
- Silver Star for leading the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq on April 18, 2003.