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General Austin is a capable and respected former commander of Central Command, but he retired only in 2016. That’s not long enough: A civilian — not a recently retired general — should lead the Pentagon.
It is only the third time a president has requested a waiver since Congress passed the National Security Act in 1947, which requires a prospective secretary to wait seven years after ending active duty as a commissioned officer. President Harry Truman appointed George Marshall in 1950, and Trump chose James Mattis.
When Trump nominated Mattis, a former Marine general, some experts believed a congressional exception was warranted. Trump came to the office with less national security experience than any president in history, and some thought Mattis would provide a steady hand — as one of the “adults in the room” — to resist the president’s worst tendencies. Although his tenure raised some serious civil-military concerns, there is a strong case Mattis did exactly that.
But Mattis remained close to his former colleagues in uniform. When Trump administration infighting left key civilian jobs unfilled, Mattis leaned heavily on the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Joseph Dunford, and other military officers. Civilian political leaders in the Pentagon seemed to be sidelined.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Biden picks defense secretary as Trump hosts vaccine summit – live updates | US news