The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed General Lloyd Austin as the new Secretary of Defense. The endorsement of Austin was overwhelming from both Republicans and Democrats with 93 votes in favor and only 2 against.
“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as our nation’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I’m especially proud to be the first African-American to hold the position,” he wrote on Twitter. “Let’s get to work.”
During his confirmation hearing earlier this week, Austin spoke of the role of U.S. troops in the world and said they should focus their efforts in Asia, where he saw China as the “most significant challenge” and described Iran as “a destabilizing force.”
On Afghanistan, he indicated that he would like to see this conflict end with a negotiated settlement.
“I think we’re going to make every effort to make sure that happens,” he stressed about the longest war in which the United States has been involved, almost two decades.
“I’m of the view that this conflict must come, you know, to an end,” he added, “We must see that a settlement is reached, and, as President Biden wants to see, I think we want to see an Afghanistan in the future that does not pose a threat to the United States.
On the eve of his departure from the White House, Trump stressed Tuesday in a videotaped speech his “pride” in being “the first president in decades who has not started new wars.”
During his tenure, Trump’s defense policy was marked by the withdrawal of troops from areas of operation such as Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.