Lloyd James Austin III (born August 8, 1953) is a United States Armygeneral. He is the 12th and current commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM). Austin is the first African American to head the organization. Prior to current assignment, General 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 15, 2011. On December 6, 2012, the Pentagon announced that President Obama had nominated General Austin to lead the U.S. Central Command. Austin was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 5, 2013, and assumed command on March 22, 2013. Of his service in Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said:
“During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen. Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves.”
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), replacing Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. As commander of MNC-I, he directed the operations of approximately 152,000 joint and coalition forces in all sectors of Iraq.
Austin meeting with US ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey (left) and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (center) in 2011
On September 1, 2010 he became Commanding General of U.S. Forces – Iraq at a ceremony at the al-Faw palace in Baghdad, Iraq after American combat missions ended. 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. Lloyd Austin's deployment in Iraq finished on December 18, 2011.
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
^"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.