Lloyd James Austin III was born on August 8, 1953, in Mobile, Alabama, and was raised in Thomasville, Georgia. He graduated with a B.S. degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975, and then promptly began his military service as an infantry second lieutenant. In 1981, Austin was assigned to command a company in the Army Recruiting Battalion in Indianapolis, Indiana. Upon completing that assignment, he attended Auburn University, where in 1986 he received a master’s degree in education. Austin was then assigned as a company tactical officer at West Point. In 1989 he earned an MBA degree from Webster University. His education also included Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, as well as studies at the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.
Some additional highlights of Austin’s military career include the following:
After retiring from the U.S. military on April 5, 2016, Austin entered the private sector, where he founded the Austin Strategy Group, a firm devoted to promoting “business development” for its client companies. In 2016 as well, Austin joined the board of Raytheon Technologies, one of the world’s largest corporations dealing in the aerospace, intelligence services, and defense industries. On September 18, 2017, he was appointed to the board of Nucor, a steel production company based in North Carolina. On May 29, 2018, Austin became an independent director on the board of the Dallas-based corporation, Tenet Healthcare. And in July 2020 he became a partner at Pine Island Capital, an equity investment firm with which Antony Blinken and Michèle Flournoy have also been closely affiliated.
On December 8, 2020, President Joe Biden named Austin as his nominee for the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense. But Austin, under the provisions of the National Security Act of 1947, was technically ineligible for that post because he had not yet been retired from active military duty for seven years; to be confirmed, he would need to be granted a congressional waiver. Congress gave Austin that waiver on January 21, 2021, by a 326–78 vote in the House and a 69–27 vote in the Senate. The next day, the Senate confirmed Austin by a vote of 93-2, making him the first black Secretary of Defense in American history. On January 25, he was sworn in ceremonially by Vice President Kamala Harris.
During Austin’s Senate confirmation hearing on January 19, 2021, he voiced support for having America rejoin the Iran Nuclear Deal, from which President Trump had withdrawn the U.S. in 2018. Said Austin: “I would hope, and I think the president-elect [Biden] has been clear, that the pre-conditions for us considering to reenter into that agreement would be that Iran meet the conditions outlined in the agreement. Back to where they should have been. I would hope that as we enter into that agreement, we could have this discussion about when things sunset [i.e., when the deal’s various restrictions on Iran are scheduled to expire], and also take a look at some broader things that may or may not be a part of this treaty, but certainly things that I think need to be addressed. One of those things is ballistic missiles.”
During that same confirmation hearing, Austin vowed to rid the U.S. military of the many “racists and extremists” that allegedly had infiltrated its ranks. “The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.” Austin made those remarks with reference to the infamous January 6, 2021 incident where hundreds of unarmed people, claiming to be supporters of President Trump, had temporarily occupied the U.S. Capitol building in Washington to protest what they viewed as a stolen presidential election. Austin and his allies in the Biden Administration voiced concern regarding the fact that about 50 of those individuals were, as CBS News reported, “current or former military members.” But that seemingly ominous statistic was not nearly as significant as it may first have appeared, because only one of the 50 was an active-duty service member at the time, and just four were current part-time troops in the Army Reserve or National Guard.
On February 3, 2021, Austin began to make good on his promise to crack down on “racists and extremists” in the military when he announced a 60-day staggered pause and review – known in the military as a “stand down” – during which commanders and leaders across every branch of the Armed Services could search for evidence of domestic “extremism” among uniformed personnel. This process would include interviews with every service member vis-à-vis their experience with, and their observations of, extremist ideology and behavior among their peers.
Austin and the Biden administration decided that in order to determine who was, or was not, a dangerous “extremist,” they would rely heavily on the judgment of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — an entity that routinely conflates traditional, respectable conservative organizations with fascist, skinhead, and neo-Nazi groups.
On February 10, 2021, the SPLC’s President and CEO, Margaret Huang, sent Lloyd Austin an unsolicited letter “to applaud your call for the service branches to conduct a 60-day stand-down on the issue of extremism in the military and to offer our expertise and full support for this important effort.” Asserting that “white supremacy ideology within the ranks is apparently disturbingly pervasive,” Huang urged Austin to:
“We deeply appreciate your leadership and early action to address and eliminate hate and extremism in the military,” Huang wrote in the final paragraph. “We would welcome an opportunity to meet with your staff to discuss initiatives, resources, and programs we believe could help in your mission.”
Absent from Huang’s letter was any mention of the widespread black extremism and black supremacy ideology that was on display throughout 2020, when Black Lives Matter played a prominent role in more than 600 full-blown, violent riots across the country.
On April 9, 2021, Defense Secretary Austin issued a memorandum announcing the establishment of a Countering Extremism Working Group (CEWG) to spearhead the military’s continued effort to locate and stamp out “extremism” in its ranks.
To lead the CEWG, Austin appointed his senior adviser on Human Capital and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, an African American named Bishop Garrison, a former director of Human Rights First. Garrison had made no secret of his profound contempt for former President Trump and the scores of millions of people who supported Trump. In July 2019, for example, Garrison said in a tweet: “Support for him [Trump], a racist, is support for ALL his beliefs. He’s dragging a lot of bad actors (misogynist, extremists, other racists) out into the light, normalizing their actions. If you support the President, you support that.” “There is no room for nuance with this,” Garrison added. “There is no more ‘but I’m not like that’ talk.”
Defense Secretary Austin’s decision to appoint Garrison to head the CEWG was even more significant in light of the fact that Garrison was a vocal supporter of the 1619 Project, an initiative whose overriding message is that the United States was born with the original sin of slavery and can never be redeemed. Garrison had put forth a passionate defense of the 1619 Project in an August 2019 essay where he wrote that America’s “hatred of communities of color and other vulnerable groups” is “deeply rooted in slavery, the treatment of African slaves, and the continued struggle of the black American community for equal treatment.” “Now, arguably more than at any time in recent history, we need to recognize that extremism, racist policies, and white supremacy stand as existential threats not only to American life but to the future of our country and others around the globe,” added Garrison.
While Defense Secretary Austin claimed that the CEWG “is not about politics or political views,” nearly all of the panel’s 18 members had supported Joe Biden and the Democrats in the 2020 elections. Author Daniel Greenfield pointed out that no fewer than 6 of the CEWG’s 18 members were radical Islamists who viewed the United States as a racist cesspool:
1) One Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was attorney Hina Shamsi, a Pakistani citizen who resided in the United States and headed the ACLU’s National Security Project. She had previously defended the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a pseudo-charity that was created by the now-defunct “Palestine Committee,” which in turn was established by the Muslim Brotherhood to advance Hamas’s political and financial agendas in the United States. Shamsi also had advocated passionately on behalf of the Islamic terrorists being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. In January 2018, for instance, she characterized Guantanamo as a financial boondoggle that had inflicted “incalculable human suffering” on its inmates by means of “torture and unlawful indefinite detention.” “We all must pledge — not one person more in Guantanamo, not in our names,” Shamsi declared at that time.
2) Another Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Faiza Patel, Co-Director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program. A Pakistani immigrant and possibly a citizen of that country, Patel co-authored a 2017 article arguing against the designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist entity, and describing it instead as “a religious organization, a political party, and a social service provider” that had “disavowed violence decades ago.” When testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 18, 2021, Patel lamented “the persistent problem of white supremacist and far-right violence.”
3) A third Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Manar Waheed, a Pakistani activist who served as a Senior Legislative & Advocacy Counsel with the ACLU. In September 2019 she had condemned the Trump administration’s decision to reduce refugee admissions to the U.S. as a “manifestation” of President Trump’s “anti-immigrant agenda” and his “discriminatory and hateful policies.” It seems never to have occurred to Ms. Waheed that Trump simply understood that it was impossible to adequately screen all aspiring refugees from countries that were chaotic hotbeds of terrorism and extremism. Indeed, high-ranking officials of the Obama administration – like FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and CIA Director John Brennan – had made this very same case years before.
4) A fourth Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Wael Alzayat. Alzayat is the CEO of Emgage, a leftwing organization dedicated to increasing political involvement by Muslim Americans, who statistically are far more likely to support Democrats rather than Republicans. Daniel Greenfield wrote the following about Emgage’s radical nature: “The national co-chair and founding member of [Emgage] is Khurrum Wahid, who has been described as one of the country’s most prominent terror lawyers and whose clients [have included] an al Qaeda operative who plotted to kill President George W. Bush, and Sami al-Arian, who was linked to Islamic Jihad.” “Prior to creating Emgage,” wrote counterterrorism researcher Joe Kaufman, “Wahid served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a director of CAIR’s Florida chapter.” Moreover, Kaufman noted that Emgage “holds events at terror-linked mosques,” including one founded by Sami al-Arian, and another where “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla was a student.
5) A fifth Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Iman Boukadoum, a staff attorney for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an organization that has spent many years justifying Islamic terrorism and extremism. In 1994, for instance, then-ADC president Hamzi Moghrabi said: “I will not call [Hamas] a terrorist organization. I mean, I know many people in Hamas. They are very respectable … I don’t believe Hamas … is a violent organization.” Two years later, Moghrabi’s successor, Hala Maksoud, said: “I find it shocking that [one] would include Hezbollah in … [an] inventory of Middle East ‘terrorist’ groups.” In 2000, new ADC president Hussein Ibish characterized Hezbollah as “a disciplined and responsible liberation force” whose members “conducted themselves in an exemplary manner.” And more than once, ADC co-founder James Abourezk has referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “resistance fighters.”
6) A sixth Islamist member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Ali Soufan, a “counter-terrorism expert” who co-authored a February 2020 article that said: “White supremacists today are organizing in a similar fashion to jihadist terrorist organizations, like Al Qaeda, in the 1980s and 1990s. They transcend national barriers with recruitment and dissemination of propaganda…. Yet despite these profound similarities, United States law has not caught up to the new threat we face. International white supremacist groups are still not designated as foreign terrorist organizations.”
In addition to the aforementioned six radical Islamists, Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG also included three individuals with close ties to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Another seat on Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was occupied by Michael Breen, the President and CEO of Human Rights First. Condemning what he described as Donald Trump’s “scheme” to “use public health as an excuse to close the border” during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Breen had once stated: “The pandemic provided a perfect pretext for shutting down the U.S. asylum system at the border and expelling nearly all refugees to face danger in Mexico or the countries they fled.”
Another member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG was Audrey Kurth Cronin, a professor at American University’s School of International Service. Viewing “extremism” as a problem associated mostly with conservatism, she claimed, without evidence, that “[n]othing occurring in association with Black Lives Matter protests and other racial unrest has approached … the level of today’s right-wing extremist violence.”
Yet another member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG, the Anti-Defamation League-affiliated historian Mark Pitcavage, said that: “Problems related to white supremacy in the military can be traced back a century…. For some decades, each time the white supremacist movement has surged, that surge has been mirrored by a similar upswell within the armed forces…. Today it is happening again, as the U.S. is experiencing a surge in white supremacy propelled by the rise of the alt right, which has brought many young, newly-radicalized white males into the movement.”
The Anti-Defamation League was further represented on Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG by the ADL’s national security analyst Ryan Greer, who had written in April 2019: “Though most Americans think of terrorism as Islamist-inspired, the numbers show that far-right terrorism has posed a greater danger to Americans.” Greer at that same time (April 2019) had also called for the leaders of Big Tech to be granted unchecked power to promote propaganda, suppress truth, and mandate intellectual conformity. Likening conservatives to bloodthirsty genocidal terrorists, Greer wrote:
“The private sector will have to do their part. When ISIS propaganda ran rife, the Obama Administration worked with Silicon Valley and others to take it down, spearheading efforts such as the shared database of terrorist content that Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube use to speed the process. Beyond just removing content, they should invest in ways to counter it, such as reducing algorithms’ likelihood of showing offensive content and redirecting risky searches to non-extremist sources.”
Another member of Defense Secretary Austin’s CEWG, Kathleen Belew, was an assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago who had authored the 2018 book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. In a 2020 interview, Belew said: “[A]n earlier moment of white nationalism proper would have been the 1920s Klan, which is all about 100% Americanism and marching on the National Mall and trying to claim the nation as a space of whiteness. The people that I’m looking at are really not interested in that so much as they’re interested in overthrowing the country, expelling populations of color, killing racial enemies, and eventually trying to figure out either a white homeland or a white world.”
By no means was the CEWG the only means by which Lloyd Austin had set out to purge America’s military of any members who held political opinions that differed from his. In his early days as Secretary of Defense, Austin ordered hundreds of former President Trump’s appointees from at least 31 Pentagon advisory boards and panels, to resign.
Central to the worldview of the race-obsessed Defense Secretary Austin, is a belief that racism is America’s most salient and enduring feature. That belief animates Austin’s passionate crusade to impose racial “diversity” – by force – upon the military that he oversees. As Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in May 2021 about Austin: “He’s certainly concerned about the diversity at the senior levels of the department. And this is not just senior enlisted levels, but senior officer levels, admirals, and generals. The numbers [of nonwhites] are not very high.” “[Austin] also believes there’s a sense of urgency here,” added Kirby. “The time is now to start to grow that [nonwhite] talent and develop that talent and provide opportunities for that talent to continue to advance of the ranks.” And for anyone who might wonder whether “diversity” is in fact a worthy goal for an institution whose main purpose is to defend a nation rather than to serve as a social laboratory for leftwing dogmas, Kirby explained that Austin “strongly believes that diversity is a readiness issue because it allows different perspectives, additional context, different lived experiences to inform the way we make decisions in the policies that we craft, the operations that we lead.”
In accordance with Lloyd Austin’s priorities and with Biden Administration policy, the Defense Department and all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces resurrected the “sensitivity” and “diversity” training programs — founded upon the Marxist precepts of Critical Race Theory – that the Trump administration had banned from the federal workplace on grounds that they were “divisive” and “un-American” rituals teaching “that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country.”
After Austin became Defense Secretary, personnel affiliated with the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) were strongly encouraged to attend virtual conferences that indoctrinated them in race-based, leftwing ideology. For example, a 2021 conference on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” included a panel on “Racism, White Supremacy and Anti-Racism,” which taught that “[r]acism is not a new thing but it seems as if recently [it] has gone mainstream.”
Another 2021 conference featured a panel titled “Black Emotional Lives Matter: Embedding Diversity and Inclusion in Your Approach to Employee Well-Being.” It explored such topics as: “the emotional tax paid by Black employees as they navigate the biases of a white-centric society and have to adapt to fit in with white-dominated work cultures”; “the psychic pain caused by micro-aggressions”; and “the emotional toll of exclusion.”
On May 25, 2021, thirty Republican House Members sent a letter to Defense Secretary Austin, each signatory individually urging him to take action against the growing left-wing extremism in the U.S. military. Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, for one, wrote: “The United States military cannot afford to have politicized military leaders push their deranged wokeness on our fighting force [whose …] sole purpose is to defend our great nation and extinguish enemy threats. These sorry attempts to indoctrinate our forces with left-wing extremism not only weakens our mission but undermines the very security of our nation.”
In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on June 10, 2021, Republican Senator Tom Cotton told Austin:
Mr. Secretary, I have received, along with Congressman Crenshaw, several hundred whistleblower complaints about Pentagon extremist and diversity training. I just want to share a small selection of what your troops are saying. … One Marine told us that a military history training session was replaced with mandatory training on police brutality, white privilege, and systemic racism. He reported several officers are now leaving his unit, citing that training. Another service member told us that their unit was required to read [the book] White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo, which claims, and this is a quote, “People raised in Western society are condition into a white supremacist worldview.”
A member of the Special Operations community has told us that they are being instructed that “The U.S. Special Operations community is racist.” One Army officer relayed to us the word of his general officer, who told him that the entire U.S. Army is racist.
A midshipman at the Naval Academy said classmates were calling America a “fundamentally racist place” and this sentiment is not contested by school administrators. An airman told us that their unit was forced into a racist exercise called a “privilege walk,” where members of the wing were ordered to separate themselves by race and gender in order to stratify people based on their perceived privilege. One African American officer disparagingly said, and I quote, “The Navy thinks my only value is as a black woman” and not the fact that she is a highly-trained military specialist.
Soldiers have come forward to tell us they are being forced to watch videos about systemic racism and documentaries that rewrite American history as a fundamentally racist and evil nation. One Space Force officer told me that two guardians left his ranks in a short period of time; one was a young African-American who said that after the training that she would never have joined the military had she known that it was such a hotbed of racism. The other was a white airman who said he didn’t sign up to be indoctrinated, and filed separation paperwork.
Mr. Secretary, we’re hearing reports of plummeting morale; growing mistrust between the races and sexes where none existed just six months ago and unexpected retirements and separations based on these trainings alone. And again, these are not my words, these are the words of your own troops.
When Austin subsequently stated that “diversity, equity and inclusion is important to this military now, and it will be important in the future,” Cotton replied: “This is not about diversity in general, though; this is about a very specific kind of anti-American indoctrination that is seeping into some parts of our military based on the whistleblower complaints we have received.”
On May 10, 2021, Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, a commanding officer with the U.S. Space Force, released a self-published book titled Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military. The book warned that Marxism and Critical Race Theory had gained a firm foothold within the U.S. military in recent years. Indeed, the only serious pushback to this trend had come when President Trump issued an Executive Order requiring the Defense Department to “immediately suspend diversity and inclusion training.” But during his first week in office, President Biden proudly and ceremoniously rescinded Trump’s order. Defense Secretary Austin was in full agreement with Biden’s decision.
As author Bruce Bawer wrote in June 2021, Lohmeier’s book noted that after the death of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, military personnel were shown videos that: depicted all whites as racists; described American history as, in the words of one video’s director, “400 years of white supremacy”; cast contemporary American society as a “system of oppression”; accused President Trump of promoting “systematic racism”; portrayed Barack Obama and the Clintons as champions of the “anti-racist” cause; and promoted a picture of America that, in Lohmeier’s view, seemed intended “to justify … violent riots.”
“As a commander of young military professionals, all of whom have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” wrote Lohmeier in his book, “I became concerned that race-based identity politics would erode the trust and confidence these young people have in their country and in the Constitution.” Further, Lohmeier recounted stories of white officers who had left the military because they grew tired of being told that “they are racists solely based on the color of their skin.” He described high-school students reluctant to join the armed services because “they are unsure what their country stands for anymore.” And he cited black West Point cadets who, as a result of the Marxist propaganda with which they had been indoctrinated, were “conflicted about swearing an oath to defend a white supremacist country.”
On May 7, 2021 — three days prior to the official release of his book — Lohmeier was interviewed on L. Todd Wood’s podcast, Information Operation, to promote the book. During the interview, Lohmeier criticized Defense Secretary Austin’s decision to have the military “stand down” against “extremism” and to resurrect the “sensitivity” and “diversity” training programs that were, by the author’s telling, “rooted in critical race theory, which is rooted in Marxism.” “I don’t demonize the man [Austin],” said Lohmeier, “but I want to make it clear to both him and every service member [that] this agenda—it will divide us. It will not unify us.” “What you see happening in the U.S. military at the moment,” Lohmeier added, “is that if you’re a conservative, then you’re lumped into a group of people who are labeled extremists, if you’re willing to voice your views. And if you’re aligned with the left, then it’s OK to be an activist online because no one’s gonna hold you accountable.”
On May 14, 2021 – one week after the aforementioned interview – Lt. Gen Stephen Whiting removed Lohmeier from his post as commander of the 11th Space Warning Squadron because, as a Space Force statement put it, his “public comments” may have “constituted prohibited partisan political activity.”
Austin came into office defining the coronavirus pandemic as America’s greatest national security challenge, and declaring climate change to be an “existential threat” that he intended to meet by “electrifying our own [military] vehicle fleets.” “Climate change is making the world more unsafe and we need to act,” Austin asserted in April 2021. “Today,” he added, “no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does.”
In early 2021 as well, Austin claimed that yet another of his top priorities as Defense Secretary would be to address the allegedly pervasive problem of sexual assault in the U.S. military, saying: “Sexual assault is a problem that plagues us. It is a readiness issue. It is a leadership issue. We’re going to lead real change for real results.”
In March 2021, Austin weighed in on the matter of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Drawing a moral equivalence between the two sides, he said: “The President [Joe Biden] has expressed his full support for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, which saved so many innocent lives during the most recent conflict. Now going forward, we seek lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. As my colleague Secretary [of State] Blinken made clear in Israel last week, a lot of work needs to be done to rebuild confidence and trust, and to create conditions to reengage in a meaningful way on the path to a two-state solution.”
Further Reading: “Lloyd Austin” (Ballotpedia.org); “General Lloyd J. Austin III” (Defense.gov); “Lloyd James Austin III” (Blackpast.org); “Biography of Lloyd Austin III” (Stripes.com, 8-31-2010); “Lloyd Austin: Fast Facts” (KESQ.com, April 13, 2021).
Betraying America: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the New Democrat Order
By David Horowitz, John Perazzo, and Mark Tapson