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Gen Charles "CQ" Brown Jr: History-making fighter pilot picked as new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman

Author: Editors Desk Source: BBC News:
May 25, 2023 at 20:34
GETTY IMAGES / President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that Gen Charles Brown would be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
GETTY IMAGES / President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that Gen Charles Brown would be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

President Joe Biden has named Gen Charles "CQ" Brown Jr to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military officer in the US.

Gen Brown, currently the Air Force chief of staff, would replace Gen Mark Milley, whose term ends in September. 

If confirmed, he would be the only other black officer holding this top post in US history besides General Colin Powell, who served from 1989-93. 

The chairman is the president's top military adviser.

Since Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is also black, it would be the first time ever that two African American men simultaneously held the most senior civil and military positions at the Pentagon. 

Announcing Gen Brown's name at a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on Thursday, Mr Biden called him a "warrior" who has "descended from a proud line of warriors".

"He knows what it means to be in the thick of battle and how to keep your cool when things get hard," he said. "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." 

Mr Biden also thanked Gen Milley for his years of service for leading the military through the "most complex security environment our world has faced in a long long time".

As Air Force chief of staff, Gen Brown oversees the training and equipping of nearly 700,000 military personnel both in the US and abroad.

Watch: In 2020, General Brown spoke about the death of George Floyd

Before becoming the first black person to serve in his current role when he was picked in June 2020, he was commander of Pacific Air Forces for the US Indo-Pacific command. 

He started his military service as a command pilot, logging 3,000-plus flying hours and 130 combat hours. 

The White House said Gen Brown had played a significant role in providing military aid to Ukraine and was experienced in navigating US-China relations.

In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder by a policeman in Minnesota in 2020, Gen Brown released an emotional video speaking about how his own personal experiences as a black man in America "didn't always sing of liberty and equality".

"I'm thinking about the pressure I felt to perform error-free," he said of his early military career, "especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less of me as an African American."

Gen Mark Milley still has four months left of his four-year term, though presidents often unveil a successor in advance to allow time for congressional approval. 

The confirmation could hit a snag.

Gen Lloyd Austin. File photo
General Lloyd Austin became Pentagon chief in 2021

More than 200 senior military appointments are currently being held up by the US Senate in a row over abortion.

Senator Tommy Tuberville has been blocking the confirmations over a Pentagon policy that provides travel funds and support for troops and their dependents who are seeking to terminate pregnancies. 

The Alabama Republican's opposition has drawn the condemnation of fellow Republicans, who have warned it could pose a risk to US military readiness.

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