Lloyd Austin has been confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the US Senate. He is the first black person in the office. Only hours later he was on the phone with NATO chief Stoltenberg and good news was ready.
This is the first, significant breakthrough for new President Joe Biden: The Senate has approved its Defense Secretary-nominated Lloyd Austin with 93 votes out of 100.
The move was nothing. For permission to hold the office of Pentagon boss, Austin first required special permission from Congress. Because the former 4-Star General has been a citizen for only four years and not the seven years actually scheduled.
Some Democrats are also critical of it – much like his later work as a top manager at arms company Raytheon. Hence Austin received significantly fewer votes for the waiver.
Austin led a campaign against ISIS under Obama
Austin is the first black person to take over as Secretary of Defense. The 67-year-old graduated from West Point Military Academy and was a soldier for 41 years. As the head of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces, he last led campaigns against IS for the Obama administration.
Austin is the first minister to be confirmed by the Senate. New coordinator of US intelligence services Avril Haines has already been given the go-ahead. Subsequently, the Senate wants to vote on Foreign Minister Nominee Antony Blinken and the new Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen.
Austin makes his first phone call with NATO chief
Shortly after assuming office, Austin made an “unswerving commitment” by the US to the Transatlantic Military Alliance. Austin wrote on Twitter about his first phone call to his new job, which he did with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg tweeted that he had a “great discussion” with Austin about shared values and challenges. “I look forward to working closely with them to strengthen relations between Europe and North America through NATO.”
Under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, the relationship between the US and NATO was highly tense. Despite the results, Trump had repeatedly raised doubts about whether the United States would fulfill its obligation to provide military assistance in an emergency. In addition, there was an uncertain declaration of withdrawal of American troops from Germany and other solo efforts. Fearing the Allies, Trump also threatened to leave NATO.
Julia Castin, with information from ARD-Studio Washington.