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Biden to appoint retired General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense

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US President Elect Joe Biden will appoint retired General Lloyd Austin to be his Secretary of Defense this Tuesdaya person familiar with the decision told Reuters, and will publicly present the health team that will lead his administration's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Austin, 67, a former chief of the US Central Command that oversaw forces in the Middle East under President Barack Obama, will be the first black US Defense Secretary if the Senate confirms it.

Austin, who retired in 2016, needs a congressional waiver to fill the position as he has been out of the military for less than the required seven years. President Donald Trump's first Pentagon chief, retired Navy Gen. James Mattis, also needed a waiver to serve.

Known as an astute strategist with deep knowledge of the military, Austin developed a working relationship with Biden during the Obama administration and has been advising the transition team on national security issues, said the person familiar with the decision to appoint him.

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