WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that he is tapping a history-making Air Force fighter pilot with years of experience in shaping U.S. defenses to meet China’s rise to serve as the nation’s next top military officer, according to a senior U.S. official.
The nomination of Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr. has been long expected. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends in October.
Brown’s confirmation would mean that, for the first time, both the Pentagon’s top military and civilian positions would be held by African Americans. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon chief, has been in the job since the beginning of the administration. The only other Black person to serve as Joint Chiefs chairman was Army Gen. Colin Powell.
Brown is a career F-16 fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours and command experience at all levels. He has broken barriers throughout his career. He served as the military’s first Black Pacific Air Forces commander, where he led the nation’s air strategy to counter China in the Indo-Pacific as Beijing rapidly militarized islands in the South China Sea and tested its bomber reach with flights near Guam.
Three years ago he became the first Black Air Force chief of staff, the service’s top military officer, which also made him the first African American to lead any of the military branches.
For the last year Brown has been widely viewed as the frontrunner to replace Milley, as the Pentagon shifts from preparing for the major land wars of the past to deterring a potential future conflict with Beijing.
Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed reporting.