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Biden appoints retired general Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense

US President-elect Joe Biden has elected retired General Lloyd Austin, who oversaw the US military in the Middle East during the Barack Obama administration, as secretary of defense, two people close to the decision said Monday.

Miami World / .

Austin, who will become the first black Secretary of Defense in the United States, beat Michele Flournoy, a former senior official in the Department of Defense, against all odds.

Politico magazine was the first medium to publish the news.

Austin, who retired in 2016, will need a congressional waiver to accept the job, as it’s been less than seven years since he left the military. He will be the second Pentagon chief in four years to need a waiver after still-president Donald Trump selected James Mattis, a retired naval general, to the job.

The appointment of Austin, who led the United States Central Command under Obama’s presidency, could provoke criticism from some progressive groups since, since his retirement, he has served on several company boards of directors, including the arms manufacturer Raytheon. Technologies Corp.

Biden and Austin developed a close working relationship during the Obama administration and the general has been advising the transition team on national security issues, one of the sources said.

Biden, who will take office on January 20, also announced on Monday the main members of his Health team to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic.

Biden selected California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been appointed Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19.

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