WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Air Force Gen. Charles Q. “CQ” Brown as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling him “an unflappable and highly effective leader” who “doesn’t play for second place.”
If confirmed, Brown would be the second Black man to serve as the president’s senior military advisor after Colin Powell’s stint in the role from 1989 to 1993.
“With Gen. Brown as chairman, I know I’ll be able to rely on his advice as a military strategist and as a leader of military innovation dedicated to keeping our armed forces the best in the world — and they are the best in the history of the world,” Biden said Thursday at the White House.
“I’ll also be able to rely on him as a thoughtful, deliberate leader who is unafraid to speak his mind, as someone who will deliver an honest message that needs to be heard and will always do the right thing when it’s hard. That’s the No. 1 quality a president needs in a chairman.”
Brown would succeed Gen. Mark A. Milley, who has served as the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2019. Milley’s term as the nation’s most senior military officer included the U.S.’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the start of the war in Ukraine and the Jan. 6, 2021, violence at the U.S. Capitol.
Milley praised Brown at a news conference earlier on Thursday, calling him “absolutely superb.”
“He’s a great officer,” said Milley, who has long known Brown. “In my … personal view, he has all the skills, knowledge, attributes to do this job, and he has the appropriate demeanor, and he has a great chemistry with the … president, (secretary of defense) and others.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who has also long known Brown, called him “an incredibly capable and professional officer.”
“What he brings to the table — to any table — is that professionalism, that deep experience in warfighting, and I have personal knowledge of that,” he said. “I think Gen. Brown is going to be a … great officer at any capacity that he’s in.”
Brown was commissioned in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Texas Tech University. He has since served in a variety of roles and commanded at every possible level in the Air Force and in joint commands in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, according to officials and The Associated Press. In 2020, he became the first Black man to lead a branch of the U.S. military when he was sworn in as the Air Force’s chief of staff, USA Today reported.
“He gained respect across every service, from those who have seen him in action and have come to depend on his judgment,” Biden said Thursday. “More than that, he gained the respect of our allies and partners around the world, who regard Gen. Brown as a trusted partner and a top-notch strategist.”
Brown’s nomination had long been expected, The New York Times reported. In addition to his notable military background, he gained national attention in June 2020 when he posted a video online in response to the killing of George Floyd, talking about his experiences with racism in America, according to the newspaper.
"As the Commander of Pacific Air Forces, a senior leader in our Air Force, and an African-American, many of you may be wondering what I’m thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd. Here’s what I’m thinking about..." - Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. pic.twitter.com/I2sf1067L6— PACAF (@PACAF) June 5, 2020
If Brown is confirmed, it will mark the first time in history that both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense are Black, CNN reported.