(CMR) The United States Senate has confirmed the appointment of retired Army General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense, making him the first African American to hold the position.
The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday in favor of confirming Austin to be the Pentagon chief.
On Thursday, Congress passed a waiver to exempt him from the law requiring seven years of civilian life to serve as Secretary of Defense. Austin retired in 2016 after 41 years of service.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Austin promised to carry out the Department of Defense's mission to deter war and ensure the nation’s security.
“I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended. The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil”, he said.
Austin, who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1975, is one of the few secretaries of Defense to rise to the rank of four-star.
In 2012 he served as the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army, and a year later took leadership of Central Command, where he was credited for fashioning and starting the process to implement a strategy for rolling back the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Austin's confirmation follows Wednesday's Senate confirmation of Avril Haines, who became the first woman to lead the country's 18 intelligence agencies as the national intelligence director.