Retired US Army General General Lloyd Austin

New US Defense Secretary Stresses Need For 'Special Relationship' With UK

In a phone call with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the pair discussed views on confronting strategic issues of mutual interest.

Retired US Army General General Lloyd Austin

The new US Defense Secretary has reaffirmed the importance of the "special relationship" between America and the UK.

General Lloyd Austin - who is the first black Pentagon chief - made the comment during a phone call with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on Saturday.

They discussed a number of issues, including ongoing operations in the Middle East, the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia and China.

Gen Austin congratulated Mr Wallace on the UK's announcement of its largest increase in defence spending in 30 years, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

They also spoke about the recent Joint Declaration for the UK Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment.

It will see US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft deployed on British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, whilst US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans will make up part of the Carrier Strike Group. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be joined on her maiden deployment by USS The Sullivans and US Marine Corps aircraft (Picture: Royal Navy).

Gen Austin, a retired four-star US Army general, became President Joe Biden's second cabinet member last week.

During the weekend, he also spoke over the phone with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

According to a Pentagon statement, he said he looked forward to "developing a close working relationship" with Mr Stoltenberg.

Cover image: General Lloyd Austin (Picture: PA).