Joe Biden formally introduces his pick for Pentagon chief, Lloyd Austin


WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden made his case for retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be secretary of defense, urging Congress to waive a legal prohibition against a recently serving military officer running the Pentagon.

With concern rising in Congress about eroding civilian control of the military, Biden on Tuesday suggested he felt a need to counter an emerging narrative that Austin’s nomination blurs the lines between civil and military roles.

“Given the immense and urgent threats and challenges our nation faces, he should be confirmed swiftly,” Biden wrote in The Atlantic. It was his first public confirmation that Austin is his pick for Pentagon chief, although word had leaked out Monday, prompting criticism and skepticism from some in Congress.

Skeptics of the wisdom of granting a waiver to allow Austin to lead the Pentagon include Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank.

Schake tweeted Wednesday that she had reluctantly supported a congressional waiver for Jim Mattis, the retired Marine general who served as President Donald Trump’s first secretary of defense, because she believed Trump posed “a threat to Constitutional governance domestically and the liberal order internationally. Thankfully, Biden is neither, so the circumstances don’t support a waiver.”

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