US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen retired General Lloyd Austin as his defence secretary, US media reports reveals.
Gen Austin, aged 67, will become the first African-American to lead the Pentagon as Biden keeps to his campaign promise to name a diverse and inclusive cabinet.
Gen Austin, who led US Central Command during the Obama administration, would need a congressional waiver as it is less than seven years since he retired.
Mr Biden’s reported decision comes two weeks after he announced other senior members of his national security team.
Gen Austin’s emergence as a potential choice came amid growing calls from national civil rights organisations and Democratic Asian, Black and Latino caucuses to ensure that Mr Biden nominated minorities and women to senior cabinet posts.
CNN confirmed that Meanwhile, Mr Biden had offered the general the job over the weekend – and he had agreed.
The four-star general in 2013-16 led the US Central Command, whose area of responsibility includes the Middle East, Central Asia and part of South Asia.
Before that he was vice-chief of staff of the army and the last commanding general of the US forces in Iraq.
Over the years he had worked closely with Mr Biden, who was vice-president in the Barack Obama administration.