Former Commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM)
General Lloyd J. Austin III began his career in the U.S. Army in 1975 as second lieutenant in the infantry and rose through the ranks to command troops in combat at the 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-star levels. General Austin served in numerous command and staff positions in the U.S. and around the world, including Operation Safe Haven in Panama with the 82nd Airborne Division; Operation Iraqi Freedom, helping to spearhead the 2003 invasion of Iraq as the assistant division commander for the 3rd Infantry Division; and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan as the commander of the 10th Mountain Division (Light).
In 2008 General Austin returned to Iraq as the commanding general of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq during the period when the surge forces were drawing down under Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2009 he was assigned to the Pentagon as the director of the Joint Staff, followed by another tour in Iraq as the commanding general of United States Forces-Iraq, responsible for the transition of all U.S. and Coalition military forces and equipment out of the country by the December 2011 deadline.
In 2012 General Austin served as the 33rd vice chief of staff of the Army, culminating his military career as the 12th commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from 2013 to 2016. As CENTCOM commander he was responsible for military strategy and joint operations throughout the Middle East and Central and South Asia. He was also the architect and oversaw the execution of the military campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He retired from the military on May 1, 2016, and is now the founder and president of The Austin Strategy Group.
General Austin holds a BS from the United States Military Academy (West Point), an MA in education from Auburn University, and an MBA from Webster University.
His many awards and decorations include five Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the country’s highest noncombat-related military award; three Distinguished Service Medals; the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat; and two Legions of Merit.