Lloyd James Austin III was the first African American to head the United States Central Command.
As commander of Central Command (CENTCOM) from March 2013 through March 2016, he was responsible for U.S. military operations in the central region of the world, which spans 20 nations from Egypt to Pakistan and to Kazakhstan. Working with international partners, CENTCOM responds to crises and oversees military operations in one of the most demanding regions of the world, including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader counter-ISIL campaign.
General Austin had extensive operational experience, having commanded troops in combat at the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-star levels. During his last deployment, General Austin served as a 4-star general and commander of United States Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through December 2011. He later served as the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the Army.
In April 2016, a special retirement ceremony was hosted by then Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley at Summerall Field, Fort Myer, Virginia. The event featured a pre-ceremony concert, a musical salute, and presentation of awards.
” This is a noteworthy tribute to General Austin,” said retired Vice Admiral Walter Davis, one of the founding fathers of the BEYA Stars and Stripes Mentoring organization.
“While in active service he gave Stars and Stripes that same dedication. Whether talking to a large audience or small group or one-on-one, he not only inspired youth to pursue engineering and STEM but he inspired excellence, dedicated hard work, and a don’t give up easy attitude. In fact, all of us were inspired by him. We hope to have his continued help with Stars & Stripes. We should all let him know how much we appreciate him.”
The general’s early assignments included duty with the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army; and 2nd Battalion, 508th Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg. Later in his career, Gen. Austin returned to Fort Bragg to serve as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and 82nd Airborne Division and later as commander, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Following duty at Fort Bragg, he was assigned to the Pentagon where he served as chief, Joint Operations Division, J-3 on the Joint Staff. Gen. Austin also served as commanding general of 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, as commander of the Combined Joint Task Force- 180, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Afghanistan. He then served as chief of staff, Central Command followed by an assignment with the XVIII Airborne Corps where he commanded Multinational Corps-Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gen. Austin commanded United States Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of Operation New Dawn in December 2011 and assumed command of Central Command on March 22, 2013.
General Austin is the Class of 1951 Leadership Chair for the Study of Leadership in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18. He serves on the Board of Directors of Nucor Corporation and on the Boards of Trustees of Guest Services, Inc. (non-public), the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Auburn University. General Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and holds master’s degrees from Auburn University (Education) and Webster University (Business Management). General Austin’s many awards and decorations include five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit. General Austin is 64 and has been a UTC director since 2016.