Gen. Lloyd James Austin III has been selected as the next Army Vice Chief of Staff, assuming Senate confirmation. The Thomasville, Georgia native currently serves as Commanding General, United States Forces – Iraq, having replaced Gen. Ray Odierno in that position on June 30, 2010. Odierno will succeed Gen. Martin Dempsey as the Army’s next Chief of Staff later this year.
Prior to his current assignment, Gen. Austin served as Director of the Joint Staff, and before that he commanded the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Previous positions included Commander of the 10th Mountain Division, Commander of Joint Task Force 180 in Afghanistan, and Chief of Staff of U.S. Central Command. Austin thus brings to the vice chief’s job an extraordinary breadth of experience in combat commands, joint roles and domestic leadership positions.
Some insiders say that current Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli will extend his current tour of duty to December, giving Austin time to suit up for the service’s number-two job. Others say that Austin is being groomed to one day serve as Army Chief of Staff, although Odierno will need to remain in the chief’s job for four years to shape service priorities. Gen. Austin will be the service’s first African-American Vice Chief.
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