Biden chooses retired general as first black defence secretary

WILMINGTON: President-elect Joe Biden has chosen retired General Lloyd Austin, who oversaw US forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, to be his defence secretary, Politico reported yesterday, citing three people with knowledge of the decision.

In picking Austin, who would be the first black US secretary of defence, Biden bypassed Michelle Flournoy, who would have been the first woman defence secretary and had been seen as the leading contender for the job.

Austin, who headed US Central Command under Obama, will need a waiver from Congress since it has been less than seven years since he served.

His nomination could draw fire from some progressive groups given his role on the board of a number of companies, including weapons maker Raytheon Technologies Corp.