COLORADO SPRINGS — The United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd James Austin III, will be the commencement speaker for the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2022 Graduation Ceremony on May 25.

The ceremony at Falcon Stadium will celebrate cadets as they become commissioned officers.

Austin is the principal assistant to the U.S. President in all matters related to the Department of Defense and serves on the National Security Council. He was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of Defense in January 2021.

Austin was born in Mobile, Alabama, and raised in Thomasville, Georgia. He graduated from West Point, the U.S. Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission in the Infantry. He holds a Master of Arts degree in counseling education from Auburn University, and a Master of Business Management from Webster University. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.

His 41-year career in the Army included command at the corps, division, battalion, and brigade levels. During the invasion of Iraq, Austin was awarded the Silver Star for his leadership of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in 2003. He later assumed the duties of Commanding General of U.S. Forces overseeing all combat operations in the Iraq.

After touring as the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, Austin concluded his uniformed service as the Commander of U.S. Central Command, responsible for all military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. In this assignment, he led coalition efforts to battle ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Austin retired from the Army in April 2016.

The 2022 U.S. Air Force Academy Graduation is closed to the public for in-person attendance. The ceremony will be live-streamed online. Event details are subject to change based on Department of Defense, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local and state public health COVID guidelines and conditions.