The Oasis Reporters
January 4, 2021
According to CNN, “no one makes it to the top of US military brass without being a talented political operator”.
Lloyd Austin, known as a man of integrity and as a former general who headed US Central Command, he learned the lesson of US Middle East wars firsthand.
Lloyd Austin is going to be the first Black Pentagon chief, and it is expected that once he’s sworn-in, he’d send an important message about equality to the rest of America and to the ranks.
But there’s a problem. Austin retired from the military only four years ago. The law requires former military officers to be civilians for at least seven years before taking the Pentagon’s top civilian job — a rule that enshrines the constitutional principle that the military is subordinate to civilian command. Congress could waive the requirement, but it’s been done only twice. First for Gen. George Marshall, a national hero who served as the Army chief of staff during World War II; then for Trump’s first defense secretary, James Mattis, who legislators hoped would be a moderating influence on the novice commander in chief.
Those circumstances don’t apply here. Biden is one of the most experienced new presidents to take office in decades, and while Austin is respected, he’s not a towering national figure. Critics of Austin’s candidacy, revealed by sources to CNN, worry that his appointment risks permanently obliterating a crucial governmental guardrail: In the tug-of-war between the armed forces and civilian power establishments, a defense secretary too deeply rooted in the military might fall on the wrong side of the line.
The military is one of the last bastions in American life that enjoy bipartisan support and respect. If the carrot of a top civilian job dangles before serving generals, it could create an incentive to play politics and ultimately damage the military’s apolitical reputation on which that trust stands, quoting a Cable News Network report.
The first time an African American rose to the top in the military as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell gave distinguished service to America under a Republican president. Powell was one of the youngest of the eligible Generals to head that office, yet President George Bush looked down the line to tap him on the shoulder, and he led well.
This time around, incoming American president Joe Biden with an equally black Vice president, Kamala Harris is also picking another black man to lead. This would undoubtedly begin to unite a nation divided by race and colour to look at country first, before color.