Austin was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of Defense on January 22, 2021. He is the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to the Department of Defense and serves on the National Security Council. The Mobile native had a 41-year career in the U.S. Army that included command at the corps, division, battalion, and brigade levels. Austin was awarded the Silver Star for his leadership of the 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Seven years later, he assumed the duties of Commanding General of United States Forces – Iraq, overseeing all combat operations in the country. After a tour as the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, Austin concluded his uniformed service in 2016 as the Commander of U.S. Central Command, responsible for all military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.