5 things to know about Gen. C.Q. Brown, Biden’s expected pick for Joint Chiefs chair
Brown would become the second Black Joint Chiefs chair
If confirmed, Brown would become the second Black Joint Chiefs chair in the nation’s history, following the late Colin Powell. Brown became the first Black person to lead any branch of the military when he became chief of staff of the Air Force in 2020.
He would also lead the Pentagon alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon chief, making it the first time in history that the top two jobs in the Defense Department would be held by African Americans.
He would be ending an Air Force drought
Brown, if confirmed, would also become the first Air Force officer to become Joint Chiefs chair since retired Gen. Richard Myers, who held the position until 2005.
The chair position typically rotates among the military branches. Since Myers, the job has been held by two Marine generals, two Army generals and one Navy admiral.
Brown spoke out about his experience with racism in the military during the George Floyd protests
Days before the Senate was set to vote on his confirmation to be Air Force chief of staff, Brown spoke out about his own experience navigating racial tensions in the military.
Those experiences “didn’t always ring of liberty and equality,” he said in an emotional video.
“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 member: ‘Are you a pilot?’” Brown said in the nearly five-minute video. “I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination,” he added, calling on viewers to let him know “how together we can make a difference.”
He didn’t plan to stay in the Air Force — and almost quit ROTC after one semester
Brown did not plan for a life in the Air Force, and when he was an ROTC student at Texas Tech University, he didn’t expect that one day he would be leading the branch.
“I’m simply in awe today,” Brown said during a ceremony marking his transition into the Air Force chief of staff role. “I’m in awe that I’m even standing here as the 22nd Air Force chief of staff, considering I had only planned to stay in the Air Force four years, and I almost quit ROTC after the first semester. Yet here I am, in a position I never thought imaginable.”
Brown has served in the Middle East and the Pacific
Before he was confirmed as Air Force chief of staff, Brown’s most recent command experience was in the Pacific, as chief of Pacific Air Forces — a background that makes him distinctly qualified to address tensions between China and the U.S. and its allies. He also commanded troops in the Middle East, as head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.