Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will step down from his role later this year, and the Biden administration has reportedly a two-man shortlist for the general’s replacement.
From an unknown number of candidates, President Biden is said to have narrowed the list down to two names: Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr and 38th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger.
Most analysts seem to believe that Biden will select Brown, who would be the fifth Air Force service member out of 20 officers who have held the position – half of them from the Army alone. He would assume the post on Oct. 1, the day after Milley’s term ends, if selected.
Brown would also be the second African American in the role after Army Gen. Colin Powell, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
Brown’s resume includes 26 assignments during his nearly 40 years of service in the Air Force. He was promoted to his current rank as a four-star general on July 26, 2018, according to his biography on the USAF website.
Those expecting a milder run under Brown are likely to be disappointed, as the Air Force general is himself no stranger to controversy.
Initial reports indicate that Brown is a by-the-book officer, sticking to talking points during public appearances and press conferences.
However, following the death of George Floyd, Brown released an emotional video that detailed his experiences navigating racial prejudice in the military, saying he had lived in “two worlds” and was often the only African American in the room, either as a pilot or a commander, and facing questions about his qualifications, which he ascribed to racism.
The move – a bold one taken shortly after receiving his promotion from then-President Trump – did not mar his confirmation, which the Senate unanimously approved.
He later would say that he gave himself a “C” rating for his ability to implement change.
Brown would inherit a difficult task: The military also has to worry about trying to hit its recruitment targets – goals that the branches have failed to achieve over the past two years, with data suggesting that they will fall short again this year.
One colleague told the New York Times that Brown often spends long periods deliberating before springing into action with incredible energy and speed.
He ruffled feathers when he said during the Aspen Security Forum in 2022 that the U.S. might provide fighter jets to Ukraine and train pilots to fly them – a decision the U.S. confirmed this week but was not prepared to make then.
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