January 12, 2021

Duckworth Praises Gen. Austin While Highlighting Importance of Civilian Leadership of our Military


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) issued the following statement after today’s U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Hearing on civilian control of the Armed Forces:

“General Austin is an excellent officer who served honorably and faithfully for more than 40 years. He broke barriers the entire way and commanded troops with integrity and compassion, and he is certainly capable of leading the Department of Defense. Yet, I can not ignore the fact that civilian control of our military is one of the foundational principles of our country—one that I spent 23 years in uniform defending. This principle is bigger than any single individual, and my concerns over this waiver are not related to General Austin’s qualifications.

“As a combat Veteran, I am disappointed that the legal requirements enshrining this principle in law were reduced in 2007 without any Congressional debate, and I am frustrated that we are now debating whether to further erode civilian leadership over our military for the second time in four years. I value the service and experience of our military officers, but I also value civilian leaders who spend their careers in service to our country. These different populations are supposed to complement each other, and act as checks and balances on each other, when necessary. This is healthy for democracy.

“I do think it’s important to acknowledge—especially now, in light of the violent insurrection at our Capitol last week—that I respect the democratic process and the rules of Congress. If my colleagues choose to approve an exception to statute that would allow General Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense, I will accept their decision and consider Lloyd Austin’s nomination fairly and on its merits. I look forward to hearing General Austin’s testimony at his upcoming confirmation hearing, and I am confident we can work together to protect our troops and safeguard our nation if he is confirmed.”

A video of the Senator’s remarks at the SASC Hearing is available here.