Biden asks Congress to give exemption for ‘cool under fire’ defense pick

Washington – President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., Lloyd J. on Wednesday. Austin III, his choice for Secretary of Defense, praised him as “a leader of extraordinary courage, character, experience and achievement”, and called for Congress to be exempted. Retired four-star Army general officers are required to have a law that recently gives officers serving in the Pentagon’s top post on active duty.

“He loves the men and women of the armed forces, known and respected by our colleagues,” Mr. Widen said at an event in Wilmington, Del., And he shares my deep faith. US alliance

Mr. Biden said the leadership of a general overseeing US military operations in Iraq would keep the Pentagon and the wider Middle East away from the United States War, and would not make it more likely.

“We need their first-hand knowledge of the immeasurable costs of war, and the burden falls on our service members and their families to help end the wars forever and to ensure that the use of force We have the last tool in our toolbox, “” said Mr. Biden. “Not before.”

Reflecting on his lecture, General Austin, 6 feet 4 inches tall, also stressed in his remarks that he would work closely with American diplomats and allied countries. “America is strongest when it works with its allies,” he said.

He said he and Mr. Biden had “gotten to know each other under some intense and high-pressure situations” and vowed to give Mr. Biden “the same direct and unpublished counsel” that he had during the Obama administration Was when he oversaw the withdrawal of the US Army from Iraq and then a military campaign against the Islamic State.

Mr. Biden recalled a meeting at the US ambassador’s residence in Iraq, which was attended by General Austin when a rocket attack by rebels occurred in the building.

“Of course, General Austin, it was just another day in office. He just sat there and was right to go, ”Mr. Biden said. “He is calm under fire, which is the same among all those around him.”

One of those people, Mr. Biden said, was his son, Bue Biden, who served as a military lawyer on General Austin’s staff in Iraq.

General Austin called the younger Mr. Biden, Who died in 2015, “A very special person, and a true patriot, and a good friend of all who knew him,” adding that the two people kept in touch after Beau Biden returned home.

If confirmed, General Austin would become the first black defense secretary, a historic breakthrough he acknowledged in the commentary that members of the Black Service from World War II Baskelow Soldiers back to World War II Tonkeji Airmen to Montford Point Marine Was called Black men were known to camp in North Carolina after serving in the Marines where they were trained. “Many people have paved the way for me,” he said.

Mr. Biden said General Austin was the right leader when more than 40 percent of America’s active-duty force people. “This long-time leadership of the department reflects that diversity,” he said.

However, to confirm this, General Austin would need to obtain a Congressional exemption from the 1947 law that would require military veterans to retire from active duty for at least seven years before heading the Department of Defense Go General Austin retired from the Army in April 2016.

Civilian control of the military has been a national priority Since the founding of the country, And choose General Austin Drew some immediate opposition on Capitol Hill To break with tradition.

But one vote by both houses of Congress can be waived, as has been done twice before – most recently in early 2017, with President Trump replacing recently retired Marine General Jim Mattis as his Secretary of Defense Designated as.

“There is a good reason for this law that I fully understand and respect. I was not asking for this exception if I did not believe that this moment in our history does not call for it, ”Mr. Biden said. “As he did for Jim Mattis, I ask Congress to exempt.”

Mr. Biden’s team has already begun making its case to lawmakers, where Democratic leaders have expressed strong support for the nomination, and believe General Austin’s prospects are good.

“Lloyd Austin served our country for more than four decades and his willingness to serve his country is commendable,” New York’s Democrat leader and minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, said Wednesday. “He would make an excellent defense secretary.”

On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced her support for General Austin a statement That did not address his recent retirement.

Some lawmakers have acknowledged that it was appropriate for Mr. Mattis to oppose the amnesty for General Austin following an approval by Congress.

“I am primarily opposed to the waiver,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat representative in the House Armed Services Committee. “But I don’t see how we can grant it to Mattis and then change after a few years and convince one of the most qualified African-American leaders to serve our country.”

But many Democrats still have merit.

“As Democrats, we spent just four years looking at violating these types of rules,” said Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey and a former State Department official. “It really feels like a waiver would replace an exception in a rule.”

He said that he has not yet decided how he will vote when the question is put in the House.

Representative Adam Smith, the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he is confident General Austin will “make an outstanding secretary for defense.” But he said he was “concerned” about his recent military service and that General Austin should meet with members of Congress to demonstrate his commitment to civilian control of the Pentagon.

General Austin tried to address such concerns on Wednesday. He said, “I have come into this new role as a civilian leader – with military experience, to be sure – but with a deep appreciation and reverence for our military’s prevailing knowledge of civilian control”.

General Austin’s intended nomination won the Ringing Endorsement on Wednesday by two prominent national security figures who worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Robert M., a former Secretary of Defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Gates, in a statement, called General Austin “an unbroken integrity, independent of thought and discretion and a steady hand”. And Colin L. Powell, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first black secretary of state, Said in a statement on his Facebook page He was a patron for General Austin, and urged Congress to approve a waiver to serve the general.

Mr. Powell said that General Austin “has demonstrated his battle skills and bureaucratic, diplomatic and political skills.”

Luke broadwater, Emily Kochan And Nicholas Fandos Contributed to reporting.

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