Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett is printed below. The piece is published today on BET.com and can be found HERE.
Today, General Lloyd Austin became the first African-American to lead the U.S. Central Command, which has a wide-ranging area of responsibility for 20 countries in the Middle East and southwest Asia. His appointment is effective immediately.
During the change of command ceremony today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said, “General Austin brings to this position combat experience gained on the unforgiving battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He has commanded some of the Army’s most storied formations, including the 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions, as well as the 18th Airborne Corps…With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge, and proven judgment – and with the love and support of Charlene and their children – I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command at a time of dramatic change, challenge, and turmoil in its area of responsibility.”
In his 37-year career, General Austin has continually broken barriers for African-Americans in the U.S. Army. He was also the first African-American to serve in his previous position as the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. His historic career includes leading the 3rd Infantry Division in the opening months of the Iraq war where he earned a Silver Star for valor. General Austin later commanded divisions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of the mission in December 2011.