On Friday, Gen. Lloyd Austin became the first African-American leader of the U.S. Central Command, which has a wide-ranging area of responsibility for 20 countries in the Middle East and southwest Asia. It's not the first time in his 37-year career that he's broken barriers for black members of the Army. He was also the first African American to serve in his previous position as the vice chief of staff.
Here's some of what Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs, had to say about Austin today, from BET Politics:
His historic career includes leading the 3rd Infantry Division in the opening months of the Iraq war where he earned a Silver Star for valor. General Austin later commanded divisions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of the mission in December 2011 …
During the change of command ceremony today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, "General Austin brings to this position combat experience gained on the unforgiving battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He has commanded some of the Army’s most storied formations, including the 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions, as well as the 18th Airborne Corps … With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge, and proven judgment — and with the love and support of Charlene and their children — I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command at a time of dramatic change, challenge, and turmoil in its area of responsibility."
In a statement last December, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, "During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen. Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves. Lloyd would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department."
Read more at BET Politics.