NewsPoliticsTop StoryUS

Biden picks Gen. Brown as Joint Chiefs Chair

Praising his leadership and even his culinary skills, President Joe Biden on Thursday formally announced his nomination of Air Force chief General Charles Q. Brown as the top U.S. military officer, making the choice at a time of mounting American concern over security threats posed by Russia and China. “General Brown has built a reputation across the force as an unflappable and highly effective leader, as someone who creates an environment of teamwork, trust and then executes with excellence – and someone who smokes a mean brisket,” Biden said during his White House Rose Garden announcement. The Associated Press has the story:

Biden picks Gen. Brown as Joint Chiefs Chair

Newslooks- WASHINGTON (AP)

The Air Force fighter pilot tapped to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff got his call sign by ejecting from a burning F-16 fighter jet high above the Florida Everglades and falling into the watery sludge below.

It was January 1991, and then-Capt. CQ Brown Jr. had just enough time in his parachute above alligator-full wetlands for a thought to pop into his head. “Hope there’s nothing down there,” Brown said in an interview at the Aspen Security Forum last year.

He landed in the muck, which coated his body and got “in his boots and everything.” Which is how the nominee to be the country’s next top military officer got his call sign: “Swamp Thing.”

President Joe Biden arrives with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr., for an event to announce Brown to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden announced he was nominating Brown during a Rose Garden event on Thursday, praising him as an “unflappable and highly effective leader.”

If confirmed, Brown, now a four-star general and the Air Force chief, would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends in October.

Milley described Brown as “absolutely superb.” Speaking earlier in the day at a Pentagon news conference, he said he was “looking forward to a speedy confirmation.”

The call sign reveal was a rare inner look into Brown, who keeps his cards close to his chest. He’s spent much of his career being one of the Air Force’s top aviators, one of its few Black pilots and often one of the only African Americans in his squadron.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., after nominating Brown as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

To this day, his core tenets are to “execute at a high standard, personally and professionally,” Brown said this month at an Air Force Association conference in Colorado. “I do not play for second place. If I’m in, I’m in to win — I do not play to lose.”

Biden referenced Brown’s comments in his praise.

“Gen. Brown doesn’t play for second place,” the president said, with Brown by his side. “He plays to win and that’s obvious. That mindset is going to be an enormous asset to me as commander in chief of the United States of America as we navigate challenges in the coming years.”

He’s been many firsts, including the Air Force’s first Black commander of the Pacific Air Forces, and most recently its first Black chief of staff, making him the first African American to lead any of the military branches.

U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., listens as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 25, 2023, on his intent to nominate Brown to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

If confirmed, he would be part of another first — the first time the Pentagon’s top two posts were held by African Americans, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin the top civilian leader. Brown would not be the first African American to be chairman, the Pentagon’s top military post; that distinction went to the late Army Gen. Colin Powell.

Brown, 60, has commanded the nation’s air power at all levels. Born in San Antonio, he is from a family of Army soldiers. His grandfather led a segregated Army unit in World War II and his father was an artillery officer and Vietnam War veteran. Brown grew up on several military bases, which helped instill in him a sense of mission.

In this image provided by U.S. Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., his wife Sharene Brown, and sons, Sean and Ross, pose for a photo during the CSAF Transfer of Responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Aug. 6, 2020. (U.S. Air Force via AP)

His nomination caps a four-decade military career that began with his commission as a distinguished ROTC graduate from Texas Tech University in 1984. He was widely viewed within military circles as the frontrunner for the chairmanship, with the right commands and a track record of driving institutional change, attributes seen as needed to push the Pentagon onto a more modern footing to meet China’s rise.

For the past two years Brown has pressed “Accelerate, Change or Lose” within the Air Force. The campaign very much has China in mind, pushing the service to shed legacy warplanes and speed its efforts to counter hypersonics, drones and space weapons, where the military’s lingering Cold War-era inventory does not match up.

In person, Brown is private, thoughtful and deliberate. He is seen as a contrast to Milley, who has remained outspoken throughout his tenure, often to the ire of former President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers.

In this photo provided by the Brown family, retired Army Col. Charles Q. Brown, Sr., father, and his wife Kay Brown, pin Air Force wings onto the uniform of their son, 2nd Lt. CQ Brown, Jr., at his pilot training graduation at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., in 1986. (Brown family via AP)

“He’s not prone to blurt out something without some serious thought in his own mind, some serious kind of balancing of the opportunities or options,” said retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley, who knows Brown from when Brown worked for him as a member of the Air Staff.

Brown has more than 3,000 flying hours and repeat assignments to the Air Force Weapons School — an elite aerial fighting school similar to the Navy’s TOPGUN. Only about 1% of Air Force fighter pilots are accepted, Moseley said.

When Brown had to eject from the burning F-16 in 1991, after the fuel tank broke off mid-flight, he said the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“I was a bit frustrated because it happened just before the selection for weapons school,” he said at the Aspen forum. He said he had to apply three times before he got in, noting that it’s “pretty competitive.”

In this image provided by the Brown family, retired Army Col. Charles Q. Brown, Sr., left, administers the commissioning oath of office to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., right, then a cadet at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, in May 1984. Brown was commissioned in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Texas Tech University. (Brown family via AP)

But he rose to the top there, too, earning a spot as an instructor, “which is like 1% of the 1%,” Moseley said.

Brown returned to the weapons school as its commandant. By then it had expanded from fighter-only exclusivity to teaching combined airpower operations, with tankers, bombers and cargo planes.

Brown saw that the school “required a different approach and attitude,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bill Rew. Earlier commandants had tried to institute a new mantra, “Humble, Approachable, Credible,” but it had not taken root.

Under Brown the cultural shift took hold and remains in place today, said Rew, who was one of Brown’s instructors at the weapons school and wing commander during Brown’s time as commandant.

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Col. CQ Brown, Jr., pilots an aircraft at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in 2006. Brown served as Weapons School Commandant from July 2005 to May 2007 at Nellis Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force via AP)

“It takes a certain kind of leadership, that doesn’t force cultural change on people but explains it and motivates them on why that change is important,” Rew said.

In June 2020, Brown was just a week from being confirmed by the Senate to serve as chief of staff of the Air Force when he felt the need to speak out on George Floyd’s murder.

It was risky and inopportune time for the general to draw public attention and pull back the curtain on his private thoughts. But he did so anyway, after discussions with his wife and sons about the murder, which convinced him he needed to say something.

In a June 2020 video message to the service titled “Here’s What I’m Thinking About,” Brown described how he’d pressured himself “to perform error-free” as a pilot and officer his whole life, but still faced bias. He said he’d been questioned about his credentials, even when he wore the same flight suit and wings as every other pilot.

In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett administers the oath of office to incoming Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. during the ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Aug. 6, 2020. Brown is the 22nd Chief of Staff of the Air Force. (Wayne Clark/U.S. Air Force via AP)

It’s been 30 years since Powell became the first Black chairman, serving from 1989 to 1993. But while African Americans make up 17.2% of the 1.3 million active-duty service members, only 9% of officers are Black, according to a 2021 Defense Department report.

“I’m thinking about my mentors and how I rarely had a mentor that looked like me,” Brown said in the video.

“I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope, but also comes with a heavy burden — I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force.

In this image provided by the Brown family, Capt. CQ Brown, Jr., first row left, poses with class 91B F-16 Fighting Falcon graduates from the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., in 1991. Brown was a Weapons Instructor Course student from April to August 1991, returned as an instructor from September 1992 to October 1994, and served as Weapons School Commandant from July 2005 to May 2007. (Brown family via AP)

“I’m thinking about how I can make improvements, personally, professionally and institutionally,” so all airmen could excel.

His decision to speak out did not cost him. His Senate confirmation vote was 98-0.

But like the brief moment in Aspen, the personal video message was a rarity. After confirmation, he lowered his public profile again, and got to work.

For more U.S. news

Previous Article
Biden vetoes GOP effort to block DC Police law
Next Article
Tom Hanks urges Harvard grads to defend truth

How useful was this article?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this article.

Latest News