US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen retired General Lloyd Austin, a former commander of the US Central Command, to head the Pentagon, according to a media report.
If confirmed by the Senate, Austin, a retired four-star general of the US Army, would be the first black man to lead the Department of Defence, Xinhua news agency quoted the Politico news report as saying on Monday.
A formal announcement is expected soon as the President-elect’s transition team said earlier that additional nominations of the new cabinet, including the post of the Secretary of Defence, will be made before Christmas.
Also on Monday Biden, announced some nominations and appointments of his health team.
In a statement on Monday, the President-elect said he was nominating Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, as the Secretary of Health and Human Hervices.
If confirmed, Becerra, a former US Congressman from California, will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which will oversee the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Indian-American Vivek Murthy has been tapped to serve as US Surgeon General, a post the research scientist held between 2014 and 2017, and Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The President-elect also said he has appointed Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care disparities, to serve as the Covid-19 equity task force chair, while naming Jeff Zients, former director of the National Economic Council, coordinator of the Covid-19 response and a presidential counselor.
Anthony Fauci, America’s top expert on infectious diseases and an adviser to six US Presidents, will serve as chief medical adviser on Covid-19 to Biden and continue in his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
According to US media projections, Biden has won 306 electoral votes in the November 3 presidential election, surpassing the 270-vote threshold for clinching the presidency.
Biden has declared victory and announced the first tranche of his Cabinet nominees, including national security and foreign policy officials.
The General Services Administration has initiated Biden’s formal transition into the White House, but President Donald Trump, despite having directed his administration to facilitate the process, has vowed to continue the legal fight to challenge the election results.