Retired four-star general and Raytheon executive Lloyd Austin was at his confirmation hearings yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The incoming Biden administration is betting big on Austin’s nomination as he will be the first African-American secretary of defense. Austin will require a waiver to assume the position because seven years have not passed since he left the service. As an appointee of the president, General Austin will have an ideological obligation to support some measure of the president’s social policies.
When asked about lifting the ban on transgender persons from serving in the military General Austin answered that he was in favor of overturning it. “I support the plan to overturn the ban,” he said. “I truly believe that if you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve.”
No doubt LGBTQ activists will celebrate Austin’s position as a major advancement of their civil rights in being able to share the full burdens of national defense along with everyone else.
Last year the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service had issued a report that included a set of modernizing recommendations for the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA). Among the recommendations was making women eligible for the draft. When Austin was asked if he would support that recommendation his answer was bureaucratic and opaque rather than supportive or definitive: