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President Joe Biden is planning to nominate Gen. “CQ” Brown, the current Air Force chief of staff, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House said Wednesday, elevating the four-star general to be the senior military adviser to the president.
Biden will announce his intent to nominate Brown in a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday, the White House said.
At 61, Charles Quinton Brown Jr. would succeed Gen. Mark Milley as chairman if the Senate confirms him, and would be the second Black Joint Chiefs chairman after Army Gen. Colin Powell. Also, for the first time in history, the Pentagon’s top two leaders, the current secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, and the Joint Chiefs chairman, would be Black men.
A lifetime of service
An Air Force F-16 fighter pilot who became an officer after completing his undergraduate degree in engineering in 1984, Brown rose through the ranks to become a general in 2009, according to ABC News.
He held senior leadership roles in the Middle East beginning in 2015, and in 2018 took command of Pacific Air Forces, America’s presence in the skies of the Indo-Pacific.
After being nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2020, the Senate confirmed Brown 98-0 to be chief of staff of the Air Force. His nomination now to lead the military’s service chiefs comes as Milley’s tenure comes to a mandated end in September. Milley came to have a notoriously strained relationship with Trump, who had chosen him to be chairman.
As Biden’s senior adviser in uniform, Brown would be called to contend with a growing Chinese military presence where he once led American airmen, the Indo-Pacific.
George Floyd changed everything
Brown, in a video message spread widely in June 2020, reckoned publicly with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, an injustice he felt compelled to discuss as a senior military leader who was often the first or the only Black man in his position.
He said his son asked him how the Air Force would respond to Floyd’s killing, and he knew he needed to speak out.
“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” he said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”
Joining ABC’s “GMA3” last February, Brown told ABC News, “You can only aspire to be what you can see. And hopefully by me being in this position, I’ll inspire many young people to open doors for not just in the military, but just really across the country, to be in a great position to — just like this.”