The Senate has confirmed Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as the new commander for U.S. Central Command, along with other military nominations on Tuesday evening. Gen. Austin was among the 63 nominations approved by unanimous consent.
Austin serves as the Army vice chief of staff, and he previously was commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. The 4-star general and West Point graduate was nominated by President Barack Obama in December to replace Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as head of U.S.Central Command.
Located between the European and Pacific combatant commands, U.S. Central Commandís area of responsibility covers the "central" area of the globe and consists of twenty countries--Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, SaudiArabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.
U.S. Central Command was established January 1, 1983.
When the hostage crisis in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan underlined the need to strengthen U.S. interests in the region, President Jimmy Carter established the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) in March 1980.
To provide a stronger, more lasting solution in the region, President Ronald Reagan took steps to transform the RDJTF into a permanent unified command over a two-year period. The first step was to make the RDJTF independent of U.S. Readiness Command, followed by the activation of USCENTCOM in January 1983.
Austin graduated with a bachelor's degree in science from the U.S. Military Academy in 1975. Later, he earned a master's degree in education from Auburn University and an M.B.A. from Webster University. Gen. Austin has served in command and staff assignments throughout his thirty-five-year career.
As assistant division commander for maneuver, the general valorously earned a Silver Star while leading the division's march to Baghdad in 2003. Five years later, he became the second highest ranking officer in Iraq, taking command of the Multinational Corps-Iraq and directing the operations of 152,000 joint and coalition forces. On September 1 2010 he became commanding general of US forces Iraq.