On Friday, Lloyd Austin became the first African-American defense secretary of the United States. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Austin served 41 years in uniform, retiring as a four-star Army general after three years as commander of U.S. Central Command.
General Lloyd J. Austin III, hails from Thomasville, Georgia. He was commissioned an Infantry second lieutenant in 1975 upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.General Austin has served in a wide variety of command and staff positions throughout his 37-year career.
His early assignments included duty with: the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army; 2d Battalion, 508th Infantry, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion, Indianapolis, Indiana;United States Military Academy, West Point, New York; 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry and 1stBrigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York.General Austin returned to Fort Bragg in 1993 and served as Commander, 2d Battalion, 505thParachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division; G-3 82d Airborne Division; and later as the Commander, 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division from 1997 to 1999. Following duty at Fort Bragg,he was assigned to the Pentagon where he served as Chief, Joint Operations Division, J-3 on the Joint Staff.General Austin served as the Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), 3d Infantry Division(Mechanized), Fort Stewart, Georgia and OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM from July 2001 until June 2003; and as Commanding General, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, New York from September 2003 until August 2005 with duty as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-180, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM, Afghanistan. He then served as the Chief of Staff, United States Central Command from September 2005 until November 2006 followed by assignment as the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps in December 2006 where he commanded Multi-National Corps – Iraq, OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM from February 2008 until April 2009. He was then assigned to the Pentagon as the Director, Joint Staff from August 2009 to August 2010. General Austin commanded United States Forces –Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of OPERATION NEW DAWN in December 2011.
Most recently General Austin served as the 33d Vice Chief of Staff of the Army from January 2012 to March 2013. General Austin assumed command of United States Central Command on 22 March 2013.
His military education includes the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia;United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy, a Master’s Degree in Education from Auburn University and a Master’s Degree in Business Management from Webster University.
General Austin’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with Three Oak Leaf Clusters), the Distinguished Service Medal (with Two Oak Leaf Clusters), the Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with Four Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (with Six Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), the Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge,the Ranger Tab and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge.