While Joe Biden has made many excellent choices for his Cabinet, one prospective appointment concerns me deeply: retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense.

To be confirmed, Gen. Austin will need a waiver from the requirement that the Secretary be a civilian, not an active or recently retired member of the armed forces.

The first such waiver was granted to George S. Marshall, who, as secretary of State under President Truman from 1947-49, designed and helped implement the Marshall Plan to aid war-devastated Western Europe, for which he later received the Nobel Peace Prize — the only military leader ever so honored.

Since then, 24 civilians served as secretary until President Trump received a waiver to appoint James Mattis. When Mattis was confirmed, many senators said it should be a “once in a generation” occurrence.

It’s disappointing the president-elect is seeking another waiver just four years later. After the disruption and chaos brought created by Trump within and outside the military, it’s doubly important the next Secretary of Defense be beyond reproach.

Gen. Austin does not meet this test. Since retiring in 2017, he’s served on the board of Raytheon, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, and Huntington Ingalls Industries, a major competitor with Bath Iron Works, raising inevitable conflict of interest questions.

To restore confidence and trust in our political system, and avoid a continuation of the dubious practices of the current administration, Gen. Austin should not be the next Secretary of Defense.


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