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Shafaq News / The “silent general” or the mastermind of the attack on Baghdad, as described in the media or US army generals, Lloyd Austin, became the first brown defense minister in American history.
The biography of General Austin (67 years old) bears many stages of ups and downs, but his name nevertheless kept his way up in military hierarchies and delicate roles despite his occasional clashes with war politicians in Washington, and his disagreements with their military strategies in war zones, including the former American president Barack Obama and former Senator John McCain.
Even so, Austen’s confirmation was supported by 93 senators, while two rejected him.
And because Austin was not a man who liked to appear in the media, his name has been frequent for many years at the head of the US military command, although his name first emerged in a disaster that could have led to his military career in the army.
According to a version by the American magazine “Foreign Policy”, in 1994 Austin was the commander of a battalion stationed at a military base in North Carolina, at which time two military aircraft collided in the air and crashed over the base, killing and wounding dozens of his soldiers during training in the disaster.
But the success of Austin and Officer Stanley McChrystal, another battalion commander at the stricken base, who later became director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commander of US forces in Afghanistan, in dealing with the consequences of the disaster on the soldiers at North Carolina Base, opened the way for them to assume higher positions.
On the eve of the 2003 Iraq war, Austin had become deputy commander of the Third Division during the war, the force to which he credits the success of the April 2003 ground attack on Baghdad by the Second Brigade. “Austin was the mastermind behind the attack on Baghdad,” a military commander said. “He was pressing, pressing and lobbying.”
Because of the success of this operation, it caught the attention of the high military leadership. A prominent general presented a report in Austin, opening the doors for him to advance militarily, and then he became commander of the American forces in Iraq, then deputy chief of staff, then commander of Central Command.
The “silent general” remained calm despite his anger at Barack Obama’s decision to increase US forces in Afghanistan in 2008 as part of the US administration’s plan to wrest control of territory from the Taliban. Austin was upset because he supported an alternative plan based on a specific counterterrorism strategy aimed at striking and defeating Al Qaeda there. It appears that Vice President Joe Biden at the time supported such a plan and informed Obama of that.
It appears that he will now restore that vision, as he told senators during the confirmation session that he supports the withdrawal from Afghanistan, explaining, “I would like to see this conflict end with a negotiated settlement,” but he stressed that “focusing on counterterrorism operations in the future would be beneficial.” “. The new US administration informed the Kabul government a few days ago that it would reconsider the agreement that Trump reached with it in February 2020 regarding a complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan by May 2021.
Just as he was rewarded for his leadership role in coordinating the attack on Baghdad in 2003, so Austin played a key role as well, on orders from Obama, in arranging an orderly and complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq in 2011.
And in Iraq again, where Austin was commander of Central Command (Centcom) in 2014, when Obama began forming the coalition against ISIS, he disagreed with him about the US President’s appointment of retired General John Allen as a special envoy for the administration in the coalition, while Austin preferred to appoint an experienced diplomat in The position, and he believed that the appointment of Allen would cause confusion about who would actually lead the coalition against ISIS.
One of Austen’s comrades says of “The Silent General” that the issue is not that he has no opinions, rather that he just does not like to talk to reporters. He described Austin as the “architect” of the war against ISIS.
But Austin, just as he was dissatisfied with the way the coalition was running against ISIS, some also criticized him because, as he was in a position of central command, he did not expect the emergence of ISIS and its great danger in 2014. But he played a major role in fighting it in coordination with the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces, and with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the year 2014. Syria.
It is also blamed for him that, in his capacity as Central Command, he did not expect the beginning of the Saudi war on Yemen in March 2015. A senior officer who worked alongside him says, “Austin was angry at the Saudi intervention, because we (the Americans) were supporting the Houthis in their fight against Al Qaeda In Arabia at that time. ” Austin was so upset that he considered formally asking the Obama administration to condemn the Saudi war.
But Austin also predicted the Saudis will face great difficulties in their war, and he expressed these expectations to the top political officials in the Pentagon, that Saudi Arabia will lose the war in Yemen, and that Washington will have to find a way to help them. Austen’s expectations were fulfilled in both cases.
The Yemen war was the first time, when the chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee at the time, Senator John McCain, criticized the Pentagon for not providing strong assistance to Saudi Arabia in the war. McCain cited his offensive arguments against Austin by saying that Saudi Arabia would not inform Washington of its plans to attack Yemen because Riyadh believed that the Americans were biased towards Iran!
It seems that Republican Senator McCain was trying to tarnish the image of the Obama administration, nothing more. The important thing is that Austin came under another attack from McCain months later, when he accused the military leaders that the US military intervention against ISIS in Syria was not strong enough. Sources say that Austin sat there receiving criticism, and he could have contented himself with saying that he was carrying out the instructions of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, but he did not, and preferred to take the blows alone. This raised his position in the military and political institutions in the White House, especially Obama and Biden.
And it wasn’t just that what impressed Biden Austin. In his positions on China, Austin was calling for the need to follow “strategic patience” in dealing with Beijing, contradicting this with the American trend, which considers that Washington should follow a strict policy in dealing with external opponents, especially China.
It seems that the Chinese file is precisely what distinguishes between the two groups, for and against Austin, to be Minister of Defense. But Austin, by this, meets Biden’s view now of being tough with China on many issues, including its military capabilities and encouraging cooperation with it economically.
During the confirmation session, he was asked about China, and he said that “China is the most difficult problem .. and the most complicated.” While Washington wants to deter Beijing militarily, it wants to cooperate with it on the commercial level.
As for Iran and Biden’s possible desire to resume dialogue with it, Austin said that Tehran is still a “factor to destabilize the region” and that its system would have a nuclear weapon would be dangerous.
In total, Austin spent nearly 40 years in the Ministry of Defense, and he is now in charge of the ministry to which the largest military budget in the world has been allocated, with more than 700 billion dollars, and he has to deal with the files of the US military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Japan, Korea and others.
Austin will certainly benefit from the special relationships he forged during his years of repeated service in Iraq with Iraqi and Kurdish officials. It will still be important to monitor how he will deal with the Iranian file in Iraq, after the previous Trump administration assassinated Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, which left major repercussions on the security situation in the country. Austin visited the Kurdistan Region several times and met his political and military leaders more than once, the last of which was to Erbil in 2016.
Austin also pledged to Congressional representatives that he would put the US military at the service of the battle with Corona, which has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans so far.
The first thing Austin tweeted after his appointment as defense minister was, “Let’s get to work.”