Local supporters hope former Fort Drum commander becomes Secretary of Defense

WWNY Local supporters hope former Fort Drum commander becomes Secretary of Defense

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWNY) - On President-elect Joe Biden’s shortlist of candidates for Secretary of Defense is a former commander of the 10th Mountain Division. North Country supporters hope General Lloyd Austin gets the job.

“Just all around great guy. I would trust my kids under his leadership any day,” said Judy Gentner, a longtime colleague of General Lloyd Austin.

The two attended U.S. Army War College together. Then Gentner also served as the deputy garrison commander of the 10th Mountain Division while General Austin was serving as the commanding officer.

Now, General Austin is being considered for Secretary of Defense.

“I can think of no one finer, more capable, more ready to step in and take that position than General Austin,” said Gentner.

President-elect Biden’s transition team has added General Austin to a short list of potential candidates for the cabinet position - something Advocate Drum Vice-Chair Maureen Cean says she wasn’t surprised to hear.

“He is 100% focused on the mission and I think this is the outcome that someone with that devotion to service can expect,” she said.

General Austin served as the commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division from 2003 to 2005 - a time when soldiers saw constant deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General Austin went on to become Army Vice Chief of Staff and built a relationship with former North Country Congressman and United States Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

McHugh says General Austin’s attributes speak for themselves.

“He obviously knows how a military unit operates and Lloyd’s got the temperament, certainly has the knowledge and the experience that would be necessary,” he said.

The Secretary of Defense is a civilian post so General Austin would need a congressional waiver to fill the position because he has served within the past 7 years.

But if chosen, it would be historic as he would become the first Black Secretary of Defense.

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