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Lloyd J. Austin III was swiftly sworn in as secretary of defense Friday, filling a senior national security position in President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, one briefly threatened by unease among lawmakers to again put a recently retired general in charge of the Pentagon.

Austin, the first Black defense secretary in the nation’s history, faces numerous global and domestic threats at once, including racism in the armed forces, a persistent menace he encountered over his decadeslong Army career, and one that secretaries before him have failed to treat as an overarching threat to their mission.

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