Trump nominates General Charles Brown, Jr. as first African American Air Force chief

President Donald Trump made history Monday with his nomination of General Charles Brown, Jr. for Air Force Chief of Staff. If confirmed, Brown will be the first African American to “lead any military service branch,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Brown, an F-16 fighter pilot and an air commander with experience fighting ISIS, said he was “humbled” by the news. “I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” Brown said in an Air Force press release. “If confirmed, Sharene and I look forward to building upon the legacy of Gen. Dave and Dawn Goldfein and the many airpower giants before who have served our Air Force and our nation with such dedication.”

New Air Force chief of staff

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed Monday that Brown has been nominated to replace the current Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein, who has served since 2016 and is set to retire in the summer.

Known as “CQ,” Brown was described in an Air Force press release as an experienced commander and pilot with the necessary know-how to lead the Air Force into an era of new threats from abroad.

Brown, who is currently commander of the Pacific Air Forces, will lead an Air Force in “transition” to focus on “Great Powers” like China and Russia, rather than the terror threats in the Middle East that the Pentagon has been preoccupied with for years, the Air Force said. His experience leading operations in Asia will help him counter threats in the increasingly volatile region, in which North Korea is also a hostile actor.

“The USAF will be well served by the formidable talents of CQ Brown,” said Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett. “He has unmatched strategic vision & operational expertise. His leadership will be instrumental as the service continues to focus on the capabilities & talent we need to implement the #NDS,” she added, using the shorthand for “National Defense Strategy.”

Brown will work with the newly created Space Force to counter rising geopolitical threats, the Air Force said. “Gen. CQ Brown is the right strategic leader at the right time for the United States Air Force,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations.

“He clearly understands the evolving and complex strategic environment we face and recognizes the importance of integrating across all domains to compete, deter and win,” Raymond added. “On behalf of the 16,000 men and women assigned to the United States Space Force, congratulations on the nomination!”

Experienced commander, pilot

A graduate of Texas Tech University, Brown has logged nearly 3,000 hours in flight, including 130 combat hours, in his 35 years with the Air Force. He led the air campaign against ISIS as commander of the Air Force Central Command and deputy of the U.S. Central Command, as well as operations against Libya, the Air Force said.

If confirmed, Brown would be the 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff and the first black leader of a military service branch in history. Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who sat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993, was never the Army’s Chief of Staff, Stars and Stripes notes.

In a tweet, Goldfein congratulated Brown on the nomination and heralded his experience in leading America’s airpower around the globe.

“CQ Brown is one of the finest warriors our Air Force has ever produced. He’s led worldwide – in the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Gen. Goldfein said. “When it comes to global, operational savvy there’s nobody stronger. Congratulations to Gen. Brown on his nomination to be our next Chief.”

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