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Joe Biden to pay tribute to black service members on Pentagon visit

Joe Biden will pay tribute to black service members during his first visit to the Pentagon as defense chief Lloyd Austin begins crackdown on white extremism in the ranks

  • President Joe Biden will pay tribute to black service members in his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief 
  • Visit comes during Black History Month, Biden will address staff at Pentagon 
  • Biden also will tour the African Americans in Service Corridor in the Pentagon 
  • Biden made record-breaking appointments, including retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, the first African American to hold the position 
  • He named Kathleen Hicks as the first woman to be deputy defense secretary 
  • Austin has kept a low profile sense being confirmed defense secretary
  • But he is working to advance an initiative targeting far-right extremism in ranks 

President Joe Biden will pay tribute to black service members on Tuesday in his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief.

His stopover comes as the president goes about business as usual while the Senate hears House prosecutors make the case to impeach former President Donald Trump on the charge of inciting the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill.

Biden made several record breaking appointments when he put together his Pentagon team, including appointing retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, the first African American to hold the position. He and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Austin before addressing defense department staff. 

The president also will tour the African Americans in Service Corridor in the Pentagon – a visit that comes during Black History Month.

President Joe Biden will pay tribute to black service members in his first visit to the Pentagon as commander in chief

Biden's visit comes during Black History Month - he appointed retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, the first African American to hold the position; above Austin visits National Guard service members at the Capitol

Biden’s visit comes during Black History Month – he appointed retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, the first African American to hold the position; above Austin visits National Guard service members at the Capitol 

President Biden will ‘discuss the vital role of the Department of Defense and our national security, talk about the significance of having the first African American Secretary of Defense in history leading the department,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in her briefing on Monday.

‘The visit has special resonance coming during Black History Month. Over 40 percent of active-duty forces are men and women of color, and you will hear President Biden pay special tribute to the rich history of black service members,’ she added.

She also pointed out Biden feels a special bond with service members as his Beau served in the Delaware National Guard. Beau Biden was an Iraq War veteran. He died in 2015 of brain cancer.

‘As the first President in 40 years with a child who served in the military, he has a personal connection to the important work of the military, the men and women who serve,’ she noted.

Biden’s visit comes after another record-breaking appointment at the Pentagon: Kathleen Hicks is the first woman to be deputy defense secretary. She started her position on Monday after the Senate confirmed her.  

Biden also named Kathleen Hicks as the first woman to be deputy defense secretary - she arrived for her first day of work at the Pentagon on Tuesday

Biden also named Kathleen Hicks as the first woman to be deputy defense secretary – she arrived for her first day of work at the Pentagon on Tuesday

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is working to advance an initiative targeting far-right extremism in ranks

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is working to advance an initiative targeting far-right extremism in ranks

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a memorial service in the Capitol for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a memorial service in the Capitol for Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick

It’s his second visit to a Cabinet agency since becoming president. He stopped by the State Department last week.  

Austin, a retired four-star Army general, has kept a low profile since his Senate confirmation. He has yet to hold a press briefing or give a major interview. He did visit National Guard troops at the Capitol, to thank them for their service, at the end of January. 

And he is working to advance a major initiative targeting far-right extremism in the ranks.

The move comes in the wake of the January 6th MAGA riot on Capitol Hill, which showed the appeal of white-supremacist and anti-government groups among some veterans and, in smaller numbers, currently serving troops. Among the 190 people charged in the siege, at least 30 are veterans. Three are reservists or National Guard members, The Washington Post reported.

‘We don’t know the full breadth and depth of this,’ Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said earlier this month. ‘It may be more than we’re comfortable feeling and admitting, and probably a lot less than the media attention surrounding it seems to suggest it could be. But where is it? It’s just not clear.’ 

Biden got to know Austin when he served as vice president and led Iraq policy for the Obama administration. Austin was a commander in the Middle East at the time.

Additionally, Austin was close to Beau Biden when Beau served on Austin’s staff in Iraq in 2008 and 2009.

The two men, both devout Catholics, attended Mass together, sitting side-by-side almost every Sunday, and they kept in touch after Beau returned from his deployment, Politico reported. 

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