Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday for his confirmation hearing to become defense secretary. If confirmed, he would become the first Black defense secretary in American history. Before the Senate is able to confirm his nomination, Congress must pass a waiver that would exempt him from a law requiring that a military officer be retired for at least seven years before serving as defense secretary. Austin retired from the Army in 2016. Jim Mattis, a recently retired four-star Marine general, required the same waiver when Donald Trump picked him to serve as his first defense secretary. Both of these nominations raised concerns that the norm of civilian control of the military is eroding.
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