WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce on Thursday that he has appointed Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr., a legendary fighter pilot with extensive understanding of China, to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Brown’s confirmation would mean that African Americans would hold the top military and civilian positions at the Pentagon for the first time. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon head, has been in charge since the administration’s inception. Army Gen. Colin Powell was the only other Black person to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The nomination has long been anticipated. Brown, if confirmed by the Senate, would succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term expires in October, as the country’s next senior military officer. Brown will be announced as the president’s choice during a Rose Garden event on Thursday afternoon.

According to a senior administration official, Biden considered Brown as the appropriate person for the post because of his work modernizing the US fleet of aircraft and nuclear weapons, as well as his years of expertise designing US defenses to confront China’s development. He’s also been heavily involved in the Pentagon’s plans to provide Ukraine with billions of dollars in US weapons as Kiev tries to repel Russia’s 15-month invasion.
Brown has commanded at every level of the Air Force and in joint commands around the world, including in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He also contributed to and led the United States’ air campaign against the Daesh extremist group.

Capt. CQ Brown, Jr., front row left, with class 91B F-16 Fighting Falcon graduates from the US Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in 1991. (AP Photo/Brown Family)
Brown has over 3,000 fly hours and leadership experience at all levels as a professional F-16 fighter pilot. Throughout his career, he has broken down obstacles. He oversaw the nation’s aviation strategy to fight China in the Indo-Pacific as Beijing quickly militarized islands in the South China Sea and tested its bomber reach with flights near Guam as the military’s first Black Pacific aviation Forces commander.
He became the first Black Air Force chief of staff, the service’s senior military official, three years ago, making him the first African American to lead any branch of the military.

Brown has been widely seen as the frontrunner to succeed Milley in the last year, as the Pentagon turns its focus from preparing for huge land wars of the past to deterring a potential future clash with Beijing

That effort could be heavily reliant on the military’s ability to quickly respond to China’s rise in cyberwarfare, space, nuclear weapons, and hypersonics, all of which Brown has sharply focused on as the Air Force’s top military leader in order to modernize US airpower for a twenty-first-century fight.

Brown’s confirmation, on the other hand, could be delayed. Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville has been blocking military nominations because he opposes the Pentagon’s policy that provides travel funds and support for troops and dependents to seek a variety of reproductive health care, including abortions, if they are based in states where abortion is now illegal.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking commander in the country, serving as the president’s chief military counsel, as well as the defense secretary and the National Security Council. The chairman does not command troops and is not technically part of the chain of command. However, the chairman is crucial in all significant military problems, from policy choices to advise on major combat operations, and he conducts meetings with all of the joint chiefs of staff who lead the various armed forces.

Brown has pushed to update US nuclear capabilities, including the soon-to-fly next-generation stealth bomber, and has led the campaign to shed old jets in order to fund a new fleet of unmanned systems. He has also contributed to the growth of the United States Space Force, which gained many of its earliest Guardians and capabilities from the Air Force.



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