Recently confirmed Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he recommended the airstrike in Syria Thursday night that targeted the militia supported by Iran that attacked Americans earlier this month in Iraq.
The reported death toll ranged from one to more than a dozen people in the attack on buildings in Syria operated by the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, that was authorized by President Joe Biden. The U.S. military maintains that the Iraqi militia is responsible for killing a civilian contractor and injuring one American soldier as well as other troops in a missile attack on Feb 15.
Austin told the Associated Press Thursday night that he always intended to retaliate against the militia.
“We said a number of times that we will respond on our timeline,” Austin said. “We wanted to be sure of the connectivity and we wanted to be sure that we had the right targets.”
He said he had no doubt that airstrike accomplished what was intended.
“I’m confident in the target that we went after, we know what we hit,” Austin also said while flying with reporters following the airstrike. He said it was “the same Shia militants that conducted the [Feb. 15] strikes.”
Austin told the New York Times the strategy was “deliberate” based on information from allies.
“We allowed and encouraged the Iraqis to investigate and develop intelligence and it was very helpful to us in refining the target,” Austin said.
The military maneuvering was the latest indication that Austin, the first Black person to lead the Pentagon, had dived headfirst into his historic role.
Aside from the airstrike in Syria and aiming to withdraw troops in Afghanistan, Austin has also been busy trying to fix things back at home.
He was recently compelled to confront sex assaults in the military after a member of the Marines released an emotional video claiming her assailant was allowed to remain in the armed forces. After learning of the video, which he called “disturbing,” Austin ordered an evaluation of military sex assault prevention programs.
“This starts with me and you can count on me getting after this on Day One,” Austin said last month.
Sex assaults were not the only scourge Austin is trying to rid the military of.
Austin also signed a 60-day military “stand down” in order to properly address extremism and white supremacy in the armed forces.
“We will not tolerate actions that go against the fundamental principles of the oath we share, including actions associated with extremist or dissident ideologies,” the memo sent by Austin to senior Pentagon leadership said in part.
Austin has also taken steps to address the reported hesitancy among military members to get vaccinated to protect against the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps specifically speaking to Black servicemen and women, Austin said he understood the doubts but also emphasized trusting science.
“Because of some things that have happened in the past, there’s a degree of mistrust, and I think we have to collectively work hard to dispel rumors and to provide facts to people,” Austin said about the initiative to increase vaccinations in the military. “It’s been my experience that when armed with the facts, people will tend to make the right decisions.”
However, he stressed that getting vaccinated was a choice.
“These are individual decisions,” Austin said. “We want to make sure that they have the best information available to make those decisions.”
Here Are All The Black People In Joe Biden's Cabinet And His Most Senior Advisers
1. Adewale Adeyemo, Deputy Treasury SecretarySource:Twitter 1 of 19
2. Gen. Lloyd Austin, Department of DefenseSource:Getty 2 of 19
3. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, vice chair of the Democratic National CommitteeSource:Getty 3 of 19
4. Kirsten Clarke, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights DivisionSource:Getty 4 of 19
5. Ashley Etienne, Kamala Harris’ Chief Communications Director
5 of 19
Ashley Etienne is the Communications Director for MVP Kamala Harris. She’s not new to the game. Etienne was the communications director for the House Oversight Committee under the late Elijah Cummings. Biden-Harris administration has chosen the best!👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/FLVgWZCdUn— silverprincess💛 (@marsha_vivinate) November 30, 2020
6. Tina Flournoy, Vice President's Chief Of Staff6 of 19
7. Rep. Marcia Fudge, Housing and Urban DevelopmentSource:Getty 7 of 19
8. Joelle Gamble, National Economic CouncilSource:Courtesy of Biden-Harris Transition Team 8 of 19
9. Shuwanza Goff, Deputy Director Of The White House Office Of Legislative AffairsSource:Joe Biden Communications Coalitions 9 of 19
10. Jamie Harrison, DNC ChairSource:Getty 10 of 19
11. Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Deputy Press SecretarySource:Getty 11 of 19
12. Brenda Mallory, Council on Environmental Quality ChairpersonSource:Getty 12 of 19
13. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Co-Chair of Biden's Coronavirus Task Force
13 of 19
Finally, some science.— NewsOne (@newsone) November 16, 2020
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a doctor and college professor promoting health and healthcare equity for structurally marginalized populations, will co-chair Joe Biden's Covid task force.https://t.co/cUHso6sruX
14. Michael Regan, EPA
14 of 19
Biden picks Michael Regan, top North Carolina environmental official, to run EPA https://t.co/JJzYjFdevB— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 17, 2020
15. Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Council DirectorSource:Getty 15 of 19
16. Cedric RichmondSource:Getty 16 of 19
17. Cecilia Rouse, Council of Economic Advisors chairpersonSource:Getty 17 of 19
18. Symone Sanders, Vice President's spokesperson
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All of the reporting I've seen has indicated @SymoneDSanders is the frontrunner for Press Secretary so I'm expecting her to be picked. But let me add to the chorus to say she is the CREDENTIALS pick in addition to being historic. #BlackWomenLead https://t.co/cvFGjq1xLB pic.twitter.com/4Qd5D14pVR— BlackWomenViews Media (@blackwomenviews) November 14, 2020
19. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN AmbassadorSource:Getty 19 of 19
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Says He Recommended Syria Airstrike: ‘We Know What We Hit’ was originally published on newsone.com