He would be the first African-American general to lead US Central Command.
An experienced combat leader, Gen Austin headed the 3rd Infantry Division which marched into Baghdad in March 2003.
He returned to Iraq in late 2010 to direct the final troop withdrawal and end of the war.
He 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.