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Black four-star general likely Joint Chiefs chair


Promotion of Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.

Rumors have circulated for weeks, and it has yet to become official, but President Joseph Biden is expected to name Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).

If nominated and approved by Congress, Brown, a four-star general, will become the highest ranking uniformed officer in the military, and along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, the top two personnel overseeing America’s armed forces. It will mark the first time African-Americans have occupied these two positions.

Brown comes from a military family as his grandfather, Robert Brown, served as an enlisted man in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His father, Charles Sr., spent 30 years in the army before retiring as a Colonel.

Gen. Brown (nicknamed “CQ”) started his own career in uniform as a cadet in the ROTC program at Texas Tech University where he graduated in 1985 as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Initially trained as a fighter pilot on the F-16 Fighting Falcon platform, Brown has qualified on a variety of fixed wing and helicopter aircraft. These include the AH-64 Apache helicopter; the AC-130 gunship; an assortment of bombers including the B-1B Lancer, the B-2 Spirit Stealth, and the B-52 Stratofortress; and the KC-135 Stratotanker.

His flight resume includes some 2,900 hours in the air as well as 130 combat hours. He has commanded units in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific region of South Asia.

Brown previously made history when he was tapped by President Donald Trump to become the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, the first African-American to hold the senior position of a military branch as Chief of Staff (Gen. Colin Powell, the first Black person to become CJCS, was the National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before his elevation to Chairman). Brown’s ascension to this posting came in the middle of controversy, as his confirmation process came in the wake of the police-related death of George Floyd in May of 2020.

Placed in a delicate situation, Brown ran counter to the mandate of uniformed officers in the avoidance of making a political statement by releasing a carefully worded video which went beyond the military spectrum as a personal affirmation about racial injustice during his career. The video follows: ( watch?v=UjPco68usEo)

If confirmed, Brown will succeed Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Chairman since Oct. 1, 2019. The Joint Chiefs consist of the most senior uniformed leaders of each of the six service branches that make up the Department of Defense.

These presently include Milley’s assistant, Navy Adm. and Vice Chairman Christopher W. Grady.

Other members include:

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday, National Guard Bureau Chief Daniel N. Hokanson, Coast Guard Commandant Linda L. Fagan, and Space Force Operations Chief Gen. B. Chance Saltzman.

No successor has been mentioned for Brown in the event he is confirmed.

Charles Quinton “CQ” Brown Jr. is married to the former Sharene Giliford, a University of Virginia alumnus, and they are the parents of two sons, Sean and Ross.