Lloyd Austin

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Lloyd Austin
Austin 2013 2.jpg
Austin in April 2013, during his tenure as the commander of U.S. Central Command
Birth name Lloyd James Austin III
Born (1953-08-08) August 8, 1953 (age 63)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1975–2016
Rank General
Commands held

Global War on Terrorism


Lloyd James Austin III (born August 8, 1953) is a retired United States Army general. He was the 12th commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM). Austin is the first African American to head the organization.[1] Prior to current assignment, Austin served as the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army from January 31, 2012 to March 8, 2013. His previous assignment was as the last Commanding General of United States Forces - Iraq, Operation New Dawn, which lasted until December 18, 2011. On December 6, 2012, the Pentagon announced that President Barack Obama had nominated Austin to lead the U.S. Central Command.[2] Austin was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 5, 2013, and assumed command on March 22, 2013. On April 5, 2016 Austin's retirement ceremony took place at Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Austin was born on August 8, 1953 in Mobile, Alabama[4] and raised in Thomasville, Georgia. He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) with a Bachelor of Science degree in June 1975. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in counselor education from Auburn University's College of Education in 1986, and another Master of Arts in business management from Webster University in 1989. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.


The XVIII Airborne Corps command group returns home from Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2009; Austin is in front

Austin was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduation from West Point. His initial assignment was to the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) in Germany where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader in A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry and Scout Platoon Leader in the Combat Support Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry. Following this assignment and attendance at the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he commanded the Combat Support Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry and served as the Assistant S-3 (Operations) for 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.[5]

In 1981, Austin was assigned to Indianapolis, Indiana where he served as the Operations Officer for the U.S. Army Indianapolis District Recruiting Command and later commanded a company in the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion. Upon completing this assignment, he attended Auburn University where he completed studies for a Master's Degree in Education. He was then assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he served as a Company Tactical Officer. After his selection and subsequent completion of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York, where he served as the S-3 (Operations) and later Executive Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry. He subsequently served as Executive Officer for 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and later as Director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security for Fort Drum, New York.[6]

In 1993, Austin returned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He later served as the G-3 for the 82nd Airborne Division. Following graduation from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, he commanded the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Shortly after Brigade command, he was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. where he served as Chief, Joint Operations Division, J-3, on the Joint Staff. His next assignment was as Assistant Division Commander for Maneuver, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Stewart, Georgia. As the ADC-M, he helped spearhead the division's invasion of Iraq in March 2003.[7]

Austin served from September 2003 until August 2005 as the Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), with duty as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-180, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan. His next position was Chief of Staff of the United States Central Command at MacDill AFB, in Tampa, Florida from September 2005 until October 2006.[8]

On December 8, 2006, Austin was promoted to Lieutenant General, and assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Austin handed over command of XVIII Corps to become Director of the Joint Staff in August 2009.

In February 2008, Austin became the second highest ranking commander in Iraq, taking command of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I). As commander of MNC-I, he directed the operations of approximately 152,000 joint and coalition forces in all sectors of Iraq.[9]

Austin meeting with US ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey (left) and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (center) in 2011

Commanding General of U.S. Forces – Iraq[edit]

On September 1, 2010, Austin became Commanding General of U.S. Forces – Iraq (USF-I) at a ceremony at the al-Faw palace in Baghdad, Iraq. He took over from General Ray Odierno. Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen presided over the ceremony.[10] As CG, USF-I, Austin served as the senior U.S. military commander in charge of all U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq.[11] Their mission was to advise, train, assist, and equip the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Austin oversaw the successful transition from Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and combat operations to Operation NEW DAWN and stability operations focused on advising, assisting, and training the ISF.[12] He directed the responsible drawdown of forces and the redeployment of some 50,000 U.S. service members and the return or transfer of warfighting equipment to the U.S. or in support of combat troops fighting in Afghanistan by the December 2011 deadline. Austin, along with other members of the USF-I staff, departed Iraq on December 18, 2011.[13]

Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army[edit]

Austin was nominated[14] and confirmed[15] on December 14, 2011 to be the next Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army.[16] He took office as the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army on January 31, 2012.[17] As the VCSA, he managed the day-to-day administration of the U.S. Army’s headquarters staff and managed the allocation of the Army’s multibillion-dollar annual budget. During his year-long tenure, he spearheaded the Army’s efforts to better address the broad range of health issues affecting the Force after more than a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under his direction, the Army’s efforts to reduce the incidence of suicide in the ranks while also countering the stigma associated with this and other mental health issues helped to expand awareness and access to the many support programs available to individuals in need of help.[18] As VCSA, Austin also led the Army’s initiative to increase awareness and improve treatment options for the “invisible wounds” of war, namely post-traumatic stress and mild traumatic brain injury.[19]

Commander, United States Central Command (CENTCOM)[edit]

On 22 March 2013, he became the Commander of CENTCOM.[20] As CENTCOM, he served as the senior U.S. military commander of the regional unified combatant command responsible for the 20 countries that make up the Central Region; a region that includes Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait and is considered vital to U.S. national security interests.[21] As commander, Austin directed the activities of four service-component commands, one subordinate unified command, two major subordinate multi-service commands, and several temporary tasks forces. He continuously oversaw 149,000 U.S. service members involved in operations throughout the region, including those forces engaged in Afghanistan in support of the largest coalition campaign in modern history. He controlled a $300+ million dollar annual operating budget. He advised the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and other national-level leadership on a broad range of military matters. He engaged routinely with heads of state and senior civilian and military leaders throughout the Middle East and Central and South Asia and the broader international community.

During his tenure as commander, Austin dealt with the numerous crises and challenges afflicting the region, including the explosive crisis and transition of power in Egypt, the Huthi-led insurgency against the Hadi Government in Yemen and the expansion of the civil war in that country, as well as the resurgence of Al Qaeda’s affiliate, AQAP, and the rise of the terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.[22] After ISIL seized control of the northern city of Mosul in Iraq in June 2014, Austin immediately and decisively engaged the enemy and he began the critical outreach to military and government leaders that would eventually comprise the 62-nation Counter-ISIL Coalition. At the same time, he oversaw the development and execution of the military campaign plan to counter and ultimately defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The campaign plan calls for the employment of indigenous ground forces supported and enabled by Coalition air and other capabilities, including intelligence and logistics support. Serving as the Combined Forces Commander for Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, Austin directed the employment of all Coalition military forces within the battlespace on the ground and in the air.[23] His efforts resulted in the execution of well over 10,000 kinetic strikes in Iraq and Syria by aircrews from 16 partner nations, which served to halt ISIL’s advance and enabled the indigenous forces to retake over 17,000 square kilometers of territory previously held by the enemy.[24]

Austin's retirement ceremony took place at Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall on April 5, 2016.[25]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Combat Action Badge.svg  Combat Action Badge
Expert Infantry Badge.svg  Expert Infantryman Badge
Ranger Tab.svg  Ranger tab
Master Parachutist badge (United States).svg  Master Parachutist Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg  Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
18 ABC SSI.svg  18th Airborne Corps Patch worn as his Combat Service Identification Badge
505 Inf Rgt DUI.png  505th Infantry Regiment worn as his Distinctive Unit Insignia
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Army Distinguished Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Silver Star[26]
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Silver oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with oak leaf cluster
Army Presidential Unit Citation
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters
Secretary's Distinguished Service Award, Department of State[27]
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one service star
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Iraq Campaign Medal with three service stars
Bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with service star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 3.png Army Overseas Service Ribbon with bronze award numeral 3

2007 inductee to the Thomasville-Thomas County Sports Hall of Fame.[28]


  1. ^ [1], Guardian, March 22, 2013
  2. ^ "Secretary Panetta Statement on Intent to Nominate CENTCOM Commander". Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ Callahan, Guv (April 7, 2016). "A Soldier's Soldier". Army.mil. Washington, DC. 
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ "General Lloyd J. Austin III > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Biography View". www.defense.gov. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  6. ^ "General Lloyd J. Austin III > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Biography View". www.defense.gov. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  7. ^ "General Lloyd J. Austin III > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Biography View". www.defense.gov. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  8. ^ "General Lloyd J. Austin III > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Biography View". www.defense.gov. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  9. ^ "DoD News Briefing with Lt. Gen. Austin III from Iraq" (News Transcript). U.S. Department of Defense. June 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  10. ^ Dey, Sgt. 1st Class Roger M. "Austin leads USF-I into New Dawn | Article | The United States Army". www.army.mil. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
  11. ^ "United States Forces - Iraq Operation New Dawn". 
  12. ^ "Advance questions for General Lloyd J. Austin III" (PDF). 
  13. ^ "Last U.S. troops leave Iraq, ending war". Reuters. 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  14. ^ "General Officer Announcements". 30 September 2011. United States Department of Defense. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  15. ^ "NOMINATIONS CONFIRMED (NON-CIVILIAN)". 14 December 2011. United States Senate. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Vice Chief of Staff of the Army - The United States Army". army.mil. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Austin sworn in as vice chief of staff". 
  18. ^ "General Foresees Turnaround in Army Suicide Rate". 
  20. ^ "General Lloyd J. Austin III Retires". blackengineer.com. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  21. ^ University, Carnegie Mellon. "October 7- General Lloyd J. Austin III-Center for International Relations and Politics - Carnegie Mellon University". www.cmu.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  22. ^ "Leaders Praise Central Command for Meeting Every Challenge". U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  23. ^ "Statement of General Lloyd J. Austin III" (PDF). 
  24. ^ "Combined Forces Air Component Commander Airpower Statistics (as of 31 March 2016)" (PDF). 
  25. ^ Callahan, Guv. "A Soldier's Soldier | Article | The United States Army". www.army.mil. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  26. ^ "Lloyd James Austin , III". Military Times Hall of Valor. Gannett. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
    "Set to Lead CENTCOM, Gen. Lloyd Austin '89 Welcomes Webster Leaders". Webster Today. Webster University. February 18, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2014. He is also the recipient of the Silver Star for valor as a general officer for leading from the front during the 3rd Infantry Division’s march to Baghdad more than eight years ago. 
    Tyson, Ann Scott (January 13, 2008). "Hands-On General Is Next No. 2 in Iraq". Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2014. Austin, 54, was a pivotal figure in the invasion of Iraq. Leading the forward headquarters of the 3rd Infantry Division as it spearheaded the march to Baghdad, he gained a reputation for showing up unexpectedly in the heat of battle. He received a Silver Star for gallantry in combat. 
  27. ^ Awards & Decorations
  28. ^ "Thomasville Sports Hall of Fame - Lloyd Austin". Thomasville Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Franklin L. Hagenbeck
Commander, 10th Mountain Division
Succeeded by
Benjamin Freakley
Preceded by
John Vines
Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps
Succeeded by
Frank Helmick
Preceded by
Raymond Odierno
Commanding General, Multi-National Corps - Iraq
2008 – April 2009
Succeeded by
Charles Jacoby
Preceded by
Raymond Odierno
Commanding General, United States Forces - Iraq
September 1, 2010 – December 18, 2011
Post abolished
Preceded by
Peter W. Chiarelli
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
January 31, 2012 – March 8, 2013
Succeeded by
John F. Campbell
Preceded by
James Mattis
Commander of United States Central Command
March 22, 2013 – March 30, 2016
Succeeded by
Joseph Votel