The Senate confirmed retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin as the top leader of the Pentagon Friday, making him the first Black defense secretary in U.S. history. On Thursday, Austin was granted a waiver allowing him to take on the civilian position despite only having retired from the Army in 2016. By law, defense secretaries are required to have been retired from military service for a minimum of seven years before being considered for the job. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was also granted the waiver. Earlier this week, Austin told senators that if granted the waiver and confirmed he would “uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended,” and maintain the security of the nation as his top priority. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil,” Austin said.
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