US elections

Biden pick for defense secretary Austin reveres idea of civilian military control

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Lloyd Austin, the retired Army general whom President-elect Joe Biden picked to be secretary of defense, says he reveres the principle of civilian control of the military.

Austin was speaking after Biden introduced him Wednesday as his nominee. Biden urged Congress to waive a legal requirement that a secretary of defense be out of military service at least seven years before taking office. Austin retired four years ago after 41 years in the Army.

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Austin says he understands the need for civilian control of the military and sees himself as a civilian, not as a general.

He said that if confirmed by the Senate, he will surround himself in the Pentagon with civilian officials and advisers to ensure accountability.

President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday his defense secretary nominee, retired General Lloyd Austin, would honor and respect the principle of civilian leadership over the U.S. military, even though Austin has not been retired from service for the seven years required by law.

Biden said he would not ask Congress to provide a waiver so that Lloyd can serve as defense secretary “if this moment in our history did not call for it.”

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