Biden to visit Pentagon and pay tribute to Black service members

The trip comes as Biden forges ahead with his agenda while his predecessor former President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Biden on Wednesday will “pay special tribute to the rich history of Black service members,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, noting that the trip coincides with Black History Month.

More than 40% of active-duty forces are men and women of color, Psaki said. She said Biden will also thank service members for their role in protecting the nation. His visit comes as the Pentagon is grappling with racism and extremism in the services, an issue Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made a priority.

Austin focuses inward in first days as Pentagon chief

“As the first president in 40 years with a child who served in the military, he has a personal connection to the important role of the work of the military, the men and women who serve,” Psaki said during a White House briefing on Tuesday. Biden’s late son, Beau Biden, was an Iraq War veteran. He died in 2015 from brain cancer at the age of 46.

The trip to the Defense Department will be Biden’s second Cabinet agency visit, following a trip to the State Department. Last week he met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and delivered his first major foreign policy and national security remarks as President.

The Senate voted to confirm Austin last month. In his first few days in the role, Austin has focused on internal issues within the military, including by announcing a staggered pause and review of domestic extremism within the ranks, known in the military as a stand down.

He also has directed the Pentagon to tackle sexual assault and to review the department’s numerous advisory boards and committees.

Austin has described the coronavirus pandemic as the “greatest challenge to our country right now,” and he has a meeting on Covid every day, according to a senior defense official.

Biden’s trip Wednesday comes after the Pentagon said last month that the new administration would not commit to a full drawdown of troops from Afghanistan by May because the Taliban have not honored the commitments they made in their deal with the United States.

That agreement, which was negotiated under the Trump administration and signed in February 2020, calls for the Taliban to reduce violence and cut ties with terrorist organizations, among other demands. If the conditions of the deal were met, US forces would leave Afghanistan by May 2021. The US force level in Afghanistan went down to 2,500 troops just days before Trump left office.

Source: CNNPolitics – Breaking News

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