Biden to announce CQ Brown as Joint Chiefs of Staff presidential nominee
Biden decided to tap Brown for the job over his main competitor, Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger, earlier this month, as POLITICO first reported. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recommended that the president choose Brown as president, according to the official.
The president will make the announcement at an event in the White House Rose Garden at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, the official said.
As president, Brown would become the chief military adviser to a president who must balance the need to support Ukraine’s existential struggle against Russia and the growing threat from China, while protecting against the actions rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. He will also have to defend a force against Republican lawmakers who accuse the department of adopting liberal personnel policies and respond to a recruitment crisis not seen since the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
Rep. Don Davis (DN.C.), the first black Air Force Academy graduate elected to the House, said the historic choice sends a signal to the next generation that anyone can achieve the highest ranks of the army, regardless of the color of their skin.
“It’s part and parcel of the American dream, where our armed forces reflect America,” Davis said. “It’s part of a story. This will inspire so many young people. »
The senior administration official said Milley had been a “close and trusted adviser” to Biden over the past two-and-a-half years, and the president appreciated “his candor, combat experience and personal dedication. to American men and women in uniform”. ”
“During the selection process, President Biden prioritized finding a successor who could continue this work and provide strong and consistent leadership and sound advice,” the official said. “Generally Brown, the president knows he will also benefit from a wealth of military experience, shaped in both peacetime and wartime.”
The Senate voted unanimously to confirm Brown as Air Force chief of staff in 2020, but his confirmation likely won’t be as smooth this time around. Brown joins about 200 other senior Pentagon nominees whose nominations are blocked by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville because of the department’s abortion travel policy. The blockade of Tuberville should not be lifted anytime soon.
Those who know him say Brown is the right man for the job, regardless of race. A fighter pilot with deep field experience in theaters around the world, he commanded troops in the Pacific, serving as chief of Pacific Air Forces, a job that experts say makes him the best person to take on this role at a time when China is seen as the military’s main threat.
“His in-depth knowledge and experience of the Indo-Pacific theater will be particularly valuable – key to this ‘decisive decade,'” said retired Marine Corps major general Arnold Punaro, former director of personnel for the Committee of Forces. senate armies.
Brown also commanded troops in the Middle East, serving as chief of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and was serving in Europe when Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. At the time, he was director of operations strategic deterrence and nuclear integration in the US Air Forces. in Europe. He has more than 3,000 flying hours to his credit, including combat missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
“He’s one of the most prepared incoming presidents we’ve had in a long time,” said retired Admiral Mark Montgomery, former policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee. “CQ ticks all the boxes.”
Unlike his talkative predecessor, Brown is the rare fighter pilot who listens more than he talks, according to his friends and mentors. Those who know him say he is calm and thoughtful, an attentive note-taker who absorbs all the facts and then takes decisive action.
It’s those traits that make Brown the right fit for the job as the president’s top military adviser, said retired Gen. David Goldfein, Brown’s predecessor as the Army’s chief of staff. air.
“When he speaks, everyone leans forward,” he said. “While he won’t be the loudest or most vocal, he will be the one in the room with the most to say.”
Along with other firsts, Brown would also be the first Air Force officer to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since retired Gen. Richard Myers, who held the position until 2005 – a drought of nearly 20 years. During this time, two Marine Corps, two Army, and one Navy officers served in this role.
“I don’t know anyone who tops him when it comes to resume,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (DS.C.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Brown is seen as unflappable in a crisis, a trait his mentors and peers say makes him the right fit to be the nation’s top military officer at a time when the Pentagon faces challenges on multiple fronts.
When terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11, Brown was an F-16 instructor pilot stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, SC That night, the squadron was ordered to stay on high alert, ready to shoot down another attacker. The other young pilots were nervous for a mission they had never flown before – but not Brown, according to his peers.
“We needed the young pilots to act responsibly if they intercepted an airliner or other aircraft because we didn’t know what was going on,” said retired Lt. Gen. William Rew, then commander. of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw. “We needed cool heads to win, and CQ had the coolest head.”
But the San Antonio native isn’t shy about speaking his mind when the moment calls for it. In a remarkable move for a high-ranking military officer, Brown weighed in on the racial unrest that rocked the country in June 2020.
In a deeply personal video released days before the Senate votes on his confirmation as Air Force Chief of Staff, Brown spoke about his own experience navigating racial tensions in the ‘army.
“I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suits, with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military man, ‘Are you a pilot?'” Brown said in the five-minute video, staring directly at the camera. “I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, or decades of discrimination.”
Retired General Vincent Brooks, former commander of US forces in Korea, who was the eighth African-American to achieve the rank of four-star general, said the video was true to his own experience. He hopes Brown’s appointment will send a positive message to young black officers moving up the ranks where diversity is often still a challenge.
“I appreciated his honesty, his frankness. He really spoke with his heart, with his guts. And I can relate to everything he said,” said Brooks, who worked with Brown at the Pentagon and Central Command. “Because it’s the journey, sometimes things don’t feel quite equal, sometimes you have to jump more hurdles.”
Brown has also been outspoken about sending fighter jets to Ukraine. He reportedly angered his bosses when he told Reuters last summer that the United States was starting to consider possibly training Ukrainian air force pilots. On Friday, Biden informed fellow G-7 leaders that the United States stands ready to support the training program.
Brown “has the courage to speak truth to power, when that may not be what the commander in chief, the secretary of defense or Congress wants to hear,” Goldfein said.
Brown’s restrained public persona masks a competitive streak, said retired Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the former commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa who served with Brown in a number of positions. Brown loves working out and is passionate about sports. In private, he likes to take out his smoking room, as well as an occasional glass of red wine.
“While he may be outwardly reserved, make no mistake: there’s a fire in his belly,” Harrigian said.
But he’s also humble — another trait that’s rare among fighter pilots, Rew said. When he talks to you, he really listens, he doesn’t look around to see if someone more important might be nearby.
“You’ll never see CQ punch his chest,” Rew said. “It’s not his style.”
Clyburn acknowledged the historic nature of Brown’s nomination if he joins Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but noted that, “No one cares if both are white.”
“If you’re talking about merit and ability, the only important thing about it is that it took us this long to get there,” he said.
Brooks said Brown being the second African-American president is “great news.”
“You never want to be last if you’re also first,” Brooks said. “We want to see second, third and fourth in a nation as diverse as this.”
The Air Force chief, who if confirmed would step down a year early, comes from a long line of veterans. He is the grandson of Army Staff Sergeant. Robert E. Brown Jr., who led a separate unit during World War II, and the nephew of Army Col. Robert E. Brown III.
In high school, Brown was not interested in attending a military academy. But his father, an artillery officer and Vietnam War veteran, Army Col. Charles Q. Brown, Sr., encouraged him to apply for a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship to Texas. Tech University. He fell in love with flying after a ride in the back of a T-37 trainer during ROTC summer camp, and hasn’t stopped since.
“When I fly, I put my helmet on, my visor down, my mask up,” Brown said in a 2021 Air Force recruiting ad, intercut with images of fighter jets. “You don’t know who I am, whether I’m African American, Asian American, Hispanic, white, male or female.”