Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. will become the country’s next senior-most military officer later this year, President Biden formally announced Thursday.
“He knows what it means to be in the thick of battle and how to keep your cool when things get hard,” Biden announced in the White House Rose Garden, flanked by Brown, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Vice President Harris.
“He gained the respect of our allies and partners around the world who regard General Brown as a trusted partner and a top-notch strategist.”
Biden added: “He doesn’t play for second place, he plays to win.”
The announcement also took on a more lighthearted tone, with Biden calling Brown a “proud butt-kickin’ American airman,” who also “smokes a mean brisket.”
If his nomination is approved by the Senate, Brown, 60, would become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, only the second Black man to do so after Colin Powell.
The appointment would also be historic as it would mean that, with Austin in his current role, the top two Pentagon officials would be Black men for the first time in U.S. history.
The four-star general would also be the first Air Force officer to become Joint Chiefs chair in more than a decade — since 2005, when retired Gen. Richard Myers held the position.
The Joint Chiefs role historically carriers major weight in advising the president of national security and military matters alongside the Defense secretary.
Brown, who has a significant background in the Middle East and Asia — having both served as the deputy chief of U.S. Central Command and head of Pacific Air Forces — would counsel Biden on everything from the war in Ukraine to China’s military posturing in the Asia-Pacific to North Korea and Iran’s nuclear saber rattling to the still lingering extremist groups across the Middle East and Africa.
Brown and Austin would also attend congressional hearings to represent the Pentagon.
General Brown, a former F-16 fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours, beat out Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger for the nomination.
In his announcement, Biden praised Brown’s background and family history in the military, calling him a “warrior” who has “descended from a proud line of warriors.”
Brown would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends at the end of September.
In his speech, Biden thanked Milley for his years of service and for heading the military during the “most complex security environment our world has faced in a long, long time.”
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