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Biden nominates first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Colin Powell

WASHINGTON − President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tapping a history-making fighter pilot as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.

If confirmed by the Senate, Brown would become the second Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff following Army Gen. Colin Powell. His confirmation would also mark the first time the U.S. has had a Black Joint Chiefs of Staff and Black Defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, serving at the same time.

Biden formally announced Brown’s nomination, which has been long expected, at a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden Thursday afternoon. He would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends in October.

“General Brown’s a warrior, descended from a long line of warriors,” Biden said, pointing to his father’s service in the Vietnam War and grandfather’s command of a segregated military unit in World War II. “He knows what it means to be in the thick of battle and how to keep your cool when things get hard.”

President Joe Biden announces his intent to nominate Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House May 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Brown is currently serving as the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.

President Joe Biden announces his intent to nominate Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House May 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Brown is currently serving as the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.

Brown, whose career in the Air Force dates back to 1984, is highly regarded within the administration for his work modernizing the U.S. fleet of aircraft and its nuclear arsenal and his years of experience in shaping U.S. defenses to meet China’s rise. Brown has also played a key role in the Pentagon’s military aid to Ukraine to fights Russia’s invasion.

Brown brings more than 3,000 of hours fighter flight experience including 130 hours in combat, Biden said. The president said Brown has an “unmatched firsthand knowledge” of U.S. military operations in all theaters.

“While General Brown is a proud, butt-kicking American airman, first and always, he’s also been an operational leader in the Joint Force,” Biden said, commending his “reputation around the force as an unflappable and highly effective leader.”

“And someone who smokes a mean brisket,” Biden joked of the Texas native.

For the past three years, Brown, 60, has served as chief of staff of the Air Force. He is the first African American to serve in that role and the first African American to lead any of the military branches. Brown has served at every level in the Air Force and in joint commands including in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., U.S. President Joe Biden's nominee to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attends an event in the Rose Garden of the White House May 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Brown is currently serving as the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.

Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attends an event in the Rose Garden of the White House May 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Brown is currently serving as the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff.

Biden cited Brown’s motto of “accelerate, change or lose.”

“General, you’re right on,” Biden said. “With General Brown as chairman, I know I’ll be able to rely on his advice as a military strategist and as a leader of military innovation, dedicated to keeping our military forces the best in the world.”

Biden also called Brown a “deliberative thoughtful leader,” praising him for an “unflinching video testimony” that he gave three years ago sharing his personal experience with racism and love of his country following the death of George Floyd.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden taps first Black Joint Chiefs of Staff head since Colin Powell

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