It’s Official: General CQ Brown Confirmed as First African-American Military Service Chief


Air Force General Charles “CQ” Brown is officially the next head of the United States Air Force and the first African-American officer to ever serve as a senior uniformed officer of any of the military branches.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Brown, currently the head of the Pacific Air Force, in a unanimous 98-0 vote, to be the service’s 22nd chief of staff.

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“The U.S. Air Force, Space Force, and I congratulate General Brown and his wife, Sharene, on his confirmation as #CSAF!” air force secretary Barbara Barrett tweeted after the vote. “General Brown’s unparalleled leadership, operational experience and global perspective will prove crucial in modernizing the #USAF to meet tomorrow’s national security challenges.”

Although the vote has not yet taken place, President Donald Trump tweeted“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the first-ever African-American United States Military Service Chief has now been approved by the Senate.

“A historic day for America! he added. “Glad to work even more closely with General Brown, who is a patriot and a great leader!”

Last week, Brown opened up about a life in which he tried to fit in as an African American man in everyday life, as well as in uniform.

“I think about how emotional I am, not just for George Floyd, but for the many African Americans who suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” he said in a statement. passionate video posted on social media.

Brown, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, described his military experience as “living in two worlds”, with some wondering if he even belonged in the ranks.

“I think I have to represent by working twice as hard to prove [that my supervisors’] the perceptions and expectations of African Americans were invalid,” he said in the video. “I think of airmen who don’t have a life like mine and who don’t have to navigate through two worlds. I think about how these Airmen see racism, where they don’t see it as a problem because it doesn’t happen to them, or if they are empathetic.”

As leaders from all branches have spoken out since the May 25 death of Floyd, a black man, at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, the Air Force has stood out on the issue.

The White House in March presented Brown’s nomination. He succeeds General David Goldfein, who is due to retire this summer after four years in the role.

Brown will also be the first black officer to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since retired Army General Colin Powell served as chairman between 1989 and 1993.

Prior to his post at PACAF, Brown was the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He also served as head of the Central Air Force Command between 2015 and 2016, at the height of the air campaign against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The highly decorated commander was commissioned in 1984 and has accumulated more than 2,900 flight hours, including 130 combat hours in various aircraft, according to his biography.

Ahead of his landmark confirmation, Brown last week drew Airmen’s attention to the open discussion of rank disparities.

“I want to know what you’re thinking,” he said. “I want to know what you’re thinking and how together we can make a difference.”

Here are other Air Force generals nominated for the most senior positions in the entire force:

  • Lieutenant General Kenneth Wilsbach was nominated for his fourth star and to replace Brown as the next commander of Pacific Air Forces. Wilsbach is currently commander of the 7th Air Force and deputy commander of U.S. Forces Korea.
  • Lt. Gen. Mark Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon, has been nominated to earn his fourth star and become chief of Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley- Eustis, Virginia, replacing General Mike Holmes, who is about to retire.
  • Lieutenant General Jacqueline Van Ovost, also subject to pinning her fourth star, has been nominated to become commander of Air Mobility Command. Van Ovost is currently the deputy commander of AMC at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. She would replace General Maryanne Miller, who took office in 2018.
  • The head of the US Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella Jr., was confirmed as the next deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon by a vote in the Senate in May.
  • Major General Gregory Guillot, director of operations for US Northern Command, would receive his third star and, if confirmed, will replace Guastella, according to an officer promotion announcement made in May.
  • The Department of Defense also announced in May that Maj. Gen. Michael Loh, Colorado’s adjutant general, was nominated for a third star and to become the director of the Air National Guard, succeeding Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice. .

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

Related: ‘Only African American in the room: ‘Next Air Force Chief of Staff speaks out on racism in the ranks

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