Gen Lloyd Austin III to head Afghan pullout

Lloyd Austin

President Barack Obama has tapped the general who oversaw the final troop withdrawal in Iraq to direct the end of the US combat role in Afghanistan.

Gen Lloyd Austin III, currently vice chief of staff of the Army, would become the next top US commander for the Middle East if the Senate confirms his nomination. Austin would be the first African-American general to lead US Central Command.

An experienced combat leader, Austin headed the 3rd Infantry Division that marched into Baghdad in March 2003. He returned to Iraq in late 2010 to direct the final troop withdrawal and end of the war.

Austin also served in Afghanistan in 2008-09, leading the 10th Mountain Division.

Nearly all international combat troops are to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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