Biden decided to tap Brown for the position over his main competitor, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, earlier this month, as POLITICO first reported. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recommended that the president choose Brown as chair, according to the official.
The president will make the announcement during an event in the White House Rose Garden at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, the official said.
As chair, Brown would become the top military adviser to a president who must balance the need to support Ukraine’s existential fight against Russia with the growing threat from China, while also guarding against the actions of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. He will also have to defend a force from 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 (D-N.C.), the first Black graduate of the Air Force Academy elected to the House, said the historic pick sends a signal to the next generation that anyone can rise to the highest ranks of the military, regardless of the color of their skin.
“This is very much part of the American dream, where our armed services reflect America,” Davis said. “This is part of a story. This will inspire so many young people.”
The senior administration official said Milley has been a “close and trusted adviser” to Biden over the past two and a half years, and the president has valued “his directness, his combat experience and his personal dedication to America’s men and women in uniform.”
“During the selection process, President Biden prioritized finding a successor who can carry on that work and provide strong, steady leadership and wise counsel,” said the official. “In General Brown, the president knows he will likewise benefit from a wealth of military experience, shaped in both peacetime and war.”
The Senate voted unanimously to confirm Brown to be Air Force chief of staff in 2020, but his confirmation likely won’t be as smooth this time around. Brown is joining roughly 200 other senior Pentagon nominees whose nominations are being held up by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville over the department’s abortion travel policy. Tuberville’s blockade is not likely to lift anytime soon.
Those who know him say Brown is the right man for the job — regardless of his race. A fighter pilot with deep field experience in theaters across the globe, he commanded troops in the Pacific, as chief of Pacific Air Forces, a job that experts say makes him the best person to take on the role at a time when China is seen as the military’s primary threat.
“Especially helpful will be his deep knowledge and experience in the Indo-Pacific theater — the key to this ‘decisive decade,’” said Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine Corps major general and former Senate Armed Services Committee staff director.
Brown also commanded troops in the Middle East, as head 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 for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration at U.S. Air Forces in Europe. He has more than 3,000 flying hours under his belt, including combat missions to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
“He’s one of the best-prepared incoming chairmen we’ve had in a long time,” said retired Adm. Mark Montgomery, a former policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee. “C.Q. checks all the boxes.”
In sharp contrast to his loquacious 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 quiet and deliberate, a careful note-taker who absorbs all the facts then takes decisive action.
It’s these traits that make Brown the right person for the job of top military adviser to the president, said retired Gen. David Goldfein, Brown’s predecessor as the Air Force chief of staff.
“When he does speak, everybody leans forward,” he said. “While he may not be the one that is going to speak the loudest or the most, he is going to be the one in the room that has the most to say.”
Besides the other firsts, Brown would also be the first Air Force officer to become Joint Chiefs chair since retired Gen. Richard Myers, who held the position until 2005 — an almost 20-year drought. In that time, two officers from the Marine Corps, two from the Army and one from the Navy have served in the role.
“I don’t know of anybody that surpasses him as far as his resume is concerned,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Brown is considered unflappable in a crisis, a trait that his mentors and peers say makes him the right person to be the nation’s top military officer at a time when the Pentagon is confronting challenges on multiple fronts.
When terrorists struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, Brown was an F-16 instructor pilot stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. That night, the squadron was ordered to stand alert, ready to shoot down another attacker. The other young pilots were nervous for a mission they’d never flown before — but not Brown, according to his peers.
“We needed the young pilots to act responsibly if they were intercepting an airliner or some other airplane, 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 prevail, and C.Q. had the coolest of heads.”
But the San Antonio native does not shy away from 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 roiling the country in June, 2020.
In a deeply personal video that aired days before the Senate was to vote on his confirmation to be Air Force chief of staff, Brown spoke about his own experience navigating racial tensions in the military.
“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 five-minute video, staring straight at the camera. “I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination.”
Retired Gen. Vincent Brooks, the former commander of U.S. Forces Korea who was the eighth African American to achieve the rank of four-star general, said the video rang true to his own experience. He hopes Brown’s appointment will send a positive message to young Black officers rising through ranks where diversity is often still a challenge.
“I appreciated his honesty, his candor. He was truly speaking from his heart, from his gut. And I can relate to everything he said,” said Brooks, who worked with Brown at the Pentagon and at Central Command. “Because that is the journey, sometimes things don’t feel quite equal, sometimes you have to jump over more hurdles.”
Brown has also been outspoken about sending fighter jets to Ukraine. He reportedly irked his bosses when he told Reuters last summer that the U.S. was beginning to look at potentially training Ukrainian air force pilots. On Friday, Biden informed the other G-7 leaders that the U.S. was ready to support the training program.
Brown “has the courage to speak truth to power, when it may not be what the commander in chief or the secretary of defense or the 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 to work out and gets fired up about sports. In private, he enjoys breaking out his smoker, along with the occasional glass of red wine.
“While he may be outwardly reserved, don’t kid yourself: there’s a fire in his belly,” Harrigian said.
But he’s also humble — another trait that’s scarce among fighter pilots, Rew said. When he speaks to you, he’s really listening, not looking around the room to see if anyone more important might be nearby.
“You are never gonna see C.Q. pounding his chest,” Rew said. “That’s not his style.”
Clyburn acknowledged the historic nature of Brown’s appointment if he joins Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but noted that: “Nobody is concerned about it if both of them are white.”
“If you talk about merit and ability, the only thing significant about that is that it’s taken this long for us to get there,” he said.
Brooks said the fact that Brown is the second African-American chair is “great news.”
“You never want to be the last if you are also the first,” Brooks said. “We want to see seconds and thirds and fourths in a nation that is as diverse as this is.”
The Air Force chief, who if confirmed would leave his job a year early, comes from a long line of military veterans. He is the grandson of Army Master Sgt. Robert E. Brown Jr., who led a segregated unit in World War II, and the nephew of Army Col. Robert E. Brown III.
In high school, Brown wasn’t interested in attending a military academy. But his father, artillery officer and Vietnam War veteran Army Col. Charles Q. Brown, Sr., encouraged him to apply for a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship at Texas Tech University. He fell in love with flying after a backseat ride in a T-37 trainer during ROTC summer camp, and hasn’t stopped since.
“When I’m flying, I put my helmet on, my visor down, my mask up,” Brown said in a 2021 Air Force recruiting ad, to interspersed footage of fighter jets. “You don’t know who I am, whether I’m African American, Asian American, Hispanic, white, male or female.”
President Joe Biden is set to announce on Thursday that he has picked Gen. C.Q. Brown, the Air Force's top officer and the first Black person to lead any branch of the military, as his next Joint Chiefs chair, according to a senior administration official.Who is the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs? ›
Biden Nominates 'Top-Notch Strategist' as Next Joint Chiefs Chairman. President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. to succeed Army Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.How is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs selected? ›
—(1) There is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, from the officers of the regular components of the armed forces.What does chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff mean in government? ›
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's highest-ranking military officer and the principal military advisor to the president, the secretary of defense and the National Security Council.Who sits on the Joint Chiefs? ›
The Joint Chiefs of Staff consist of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Chief of Space Operations.How long can the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serve? ›
The chairman serves a single four-year term of office at the pleasure of the president, with reappointment to additional terms only possible during times of war or national emergency.How much does the chairman of the Joint Chiefs make? ›
While serving as the chairman or vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chief of staff of the Army, commandant of the Marine Corps, Chief of Naval Operations, chief of staff of the Air Force, or commandant of the Coast Guard, the salary is $15,583.20 a month, regardless of cumulative years of service completed ...Does the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outranks all other officers of the United States armed forces? ›
The Chairman, while so serving, holds the grade of general or admiral and outranks all other officers of the Armed Forces. The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs performs duties assigned by the Chairman, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense.How many 4 star generals are there? ›
There are currently 44 active-duty four-star officers in the uniformed services of the United States: 17 in the Army, three in the Marine Corps, eight in the Navy, 11 in the Air Force, two in the Space Force, two in the Coast Guard, and one in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.Do Joint Chiefs of Staff have executive authority? ›
Today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have no executive authority to command combatant forces, but they do work together to organize, train and equip the Joint Force.
Since 1962 Quarters Six has been the official residence of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Constructed in 1908, the same year that Orville Wright made the world's first military test flight at Fort Myer, the quarters was originally a duplex designed to house two junior officers and their fami- lies.Who is the highest ranking military commander in the US armed forces? ›
General Mark A. Milley is the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council.What is the difference between Chairman of Joint Chiefs and Secretary of Defense? ›
The deputy secretary of defense is the second-highest ranking DOD leader. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military advisor to the president and the secretary of defense. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the next highest ranking military leader.Who is the highest ranking military officer today? ›
As chairman, Milley is the highest-ranking officer in the United States Armed Forces and the principal military advisor to the president of the United States, the secretary of defense, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.Who do 4 star generals report to? ›
That body of four-star generals is led by another four-star general, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who serves as the chief military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council.Who is the assistant chairman of the Joint Chiefs? ›
Christopher W. Grady. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's second-highest-ranking military officer, responsible for overseeing joint military requirements, representing the military in National Security Council deputies meetings, and performing other duties as directed by the chairman.How many 5 star generals are there? ›
The five-star ranks were retired in 1981 on the death of General of the Army Omar Bradley. Nine Americans have been promoted to five-star rank, one of them, Henry H. Arnold, in two services (U.S. Army then later in the U.S. Air Force).Does Chief of Staff have Secret Service? ›
The Secret Service provides protection to the White House Chief of Staff, in addition to the president and vice president, among others. The White House Chief of Staff also has the highest level of security clearance, called Yankee White, which entitles them to all classified national security information.Can I join the military at 42 years old? ›
The maximum age to join the Army as an enlisted Soldier is 35, while Officers must accept their commission before age 31. However, the Army can lift some restrictions based on the need for certain roles to be filled. It's possible to receive an age waiver if you retire with 20 years of military service by age 55.Who is the only 6 star general? ›
Grant joins George Washington and John J. Pershing as the only generals to achieve the rank. This honor has been informally referred to as being a "six-star general." The highest official star rank in the U.S. Army is a five-star general, called the General of the Army.
Fraternization is the concept of improper relationships in the military, which can range from business relationships to friendships to romantic relationships. Such relationships, when occurring between military members of different ranks and positions, are prohibited, as they can undermine the chain of command.What do you call a 4 star general? ›
The rank of general (or full general, or four-star general) is the highest rank normally achievable in the U.S. Army. It ranks above lieutenant general (three-star general) and below General of the Army (five-star general).What rank is the director of the joint staff? ›
The director of the Joint Staff (DJS) is a three-star officer who assists the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a cabinet of senior military officers within the United States Armed Forces who advise the secretary of defense and the president on military matters.What rank is the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee? ›
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
|Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee|
|Status||Leader of the Armed Forces, Highest ranking military officer|
No person have ever been awarded or promoted to a seven-star rank, although some commentators might argue that General George Washington posthumously became a seven-star general in 1976 (see Part Seven).How much does a 4 star general get paid? ›
Regardless of continued time in service, once a military officer achieves the four-star rank of general or admiral, they will no longer receive pay raises and are capped at $16,974 per month.How much money does a retired four-star general make? ›
This means that a four-star general or admiral with 40 years of service will receive about $237,144 a year during retirement. That's $50,000 more than he or she would have received while on active duty. (Previously, generals and admirals' pensions were capped at 75 percent of their pay).What is J7 in the military? ›
About J7. The J7 supports the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the joint warfighter through joint force development (JFD) in order to advance the operational effectiveness of the current and future joint force.Who works closest with the president? ›
The Cabinet is an advisory body made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the members of the Cabinet are often the President's closest confidants.What is J5 in the military? ›
The Joint Staff J5 proposes strategies, plans, and policy recommendations to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to support his provision of military advice across the full spectrum of national security concerns to the President and other national leaders and to ensure those recommendations are informed by a ...
Today, only the two highest-ranking admirals live off-base: The four-star commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa will reside in the 8,000-square foot Villa La Colombaia at an annual cost of $235,000.How much does a 5 star general make? ›
He is also the only person to have ever held a five-star rank in two branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. These officers who held the rank of General of the Army remained officers of the United States Army for life, with an annual $20,000 in pay and allowances, equivalent to $332,000 in 2022.How much does a 3 star general make? ›
How much does a 3 Star General make? As of May 21, 2023, the average annual pay for a 3 Star General in the United States is $104,357 a year.Who were the only 5 star generals? ›
Five men have held the rank of General of the Army (five star), George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and Henry H. Arnold, who later became the only five-star general in the Air Force.What are the 3 types of military in which the president is commander in chief? ›
The President is Commander in Chief of all the armed forces of the United States—the Air Force as well as the Army and the Navy.Is chief of staff higher than secretary of the Army? ›
As the highest-ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the secretary of the Army.Is the secretary of defense the head of the military? ›
The President of the United States of America is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the President. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction, and control over the DoD.What's the highest military rank that still goes to battle? ›
The highest military rank is O-10, or "five-star general." It is symbolized by five stars for each of the military services.How many female generals are in the army? ›
Hundreds in U.S. history have held the rank of four-star general or admiral, only 10 are women.Is a Navy captain equal in rank to the Army? ›
Rank equivalency between services
Similarly, a Navy, Public Health Service, NOAA, or Coast Guard captain is equivalent in rank, responsibilities, and grade to an Army, Air Force, Marine, or Space Force colonel, all of which are of the sixth officer grade, or O-6.
A Spy eliminates all officers (including the Five-Star General). Only the Private can eliminate the Spy. If both pieces are of the same rank, both are removed from the board (often called a "split" by most players and arbiters).Who was the highest ranking general ever? ›
Only two U.S. officers have held a rank higher than General of the Army or Fleet Admiral: John J. Pershing and George Washington, who hold the rank of General of the Armies.What are 3 star generals called? ›
LIEUTENANT GENERAL – A three-star general, a Lieutenant General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate. GENERAL – A four-star general, the most senior officer rank, a General is nominated by the President and must also be confirmed for duty by the Senate.Can the chairman of the Joint Chiefs give orders? ›
While the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outranks all other commissioned officers, the chairman is prohibited by law from having operational command authority over the armed forces; however, the chairman assists the president and the secretary of defense in exercising their command functions.Who will be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? ›
Biden Nominates 'Top-Notch Strategist' as Next Joint Chiefs Chairman. President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. to succeed Army Gen. Mark A. Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.How many joint chiefs are there? ›
The Joint Chiefs of Staff consist of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Chief of Space Operations.Who is the deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs? ›
Christopher W. Grady. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the nation's second-highest-ranking military officer, responsible for overseeing joint military requirements, representing the military in National Security Council deputies meetings, and performing other duties as directed by the chairman.What is the chain of command in the military? ›
In a military context, the chain of command is the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed within a military unit and between different units. In simpler terms, the chain of command is the succession of leaders through which command is exercised and executed.Does the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outranks all other officers of the United States armed forces? ›
The Chairman, while so serving, holds the grade of general or admiral and outranks all other officers of the Armed Forces. The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs performs duties assigned by the Chairman, with the approval of the Secretary of Defense.Where does the Joint Chief of Staff live? ›
Since 1962 Quarters Six has been the official residence of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Constructed in 1908, the same year that Orville Wright made the world's first military test flight at Fort Myer, the quarters was originally a duplex designed to house two junior officers and their fami- lies.
Grant joins George Washington and John J. Pershing as the only generals to achieve the rank. This honor has been informally referred to as being a "six-star general." The highest official star rank in the U.S. Army is a five-star general, called the General of the Army.What is a captain's second-in-command called? ›
The chief mate is the head of the deck department on a merchant's vessel, second-in-command after the ship's master. The chief mate's primary responsibilities are the vessel's cargo operations, its stability, and supervising the deck crew.What is second-in-command called? ›
second-in-command. sub. subordinate. substitute. surrogate.How many soldiers does a general command? ›
This rank is responsible for overseeing the staff's planning and coordination of a mission. The major general typically commands division-sized units (10,000 to 15,000 Soldiers). The lieutenant general typically commands corps-sized units (20,000 to 45,000 Soldiers).Why can't officers and enlisted be friends? ›
US NAVY REGULATIONS 1165: Prohibits personal relationships between officers and enlisted personnel that are unduly familiar and do not respect the differences in grade or rank. Such relationships are prejudicial to good order and discipline and violative of service tradition.Can an e6 marry an e4? ›
Service members are allowed to marry, but they're still held accountable if improper fraternization leads to the marriage. Then, the marriage of two enlisted members of different ranks could constitute fraternization if the union compromises their duties.Can an NCO marry a junior enlisted? ›
A set of rules also govern "military fraternization." Among other prohibitions, those rules generally say that an enlisted member and an officer cannot marry.