President Joe Biden is expected to name Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chief of the Air Force, as his choice for the next top US general, according to a source familiar with the matter.
If approved by the Senate, it would mark the first time in United States history that the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are both African American, a notable milestone for an administration that has prided itself on the diversity of its leadership.
Brown would succeed Gen. Mark Milley, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2018. He would be only the second Black man to become chairman, after Gen. Colin Powell served in the position between 1989 and 1993 under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
The announcement is expected sometime before July, according to a second US official, though the exact timing is not clear.
The New York Times first reported the expected pick.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serves a four-year term. Though the chairman is the top-ranking officer in the military, the position does not command any troops, instead serving as the top military advisor to the president.
Milley will see his term expire at the end of September. Biden referenced Milley’s departure during remarks to the Combatant Commanders’ White House dinner Wednesday evening.
“You probably don’t think about it, but you’re just remarkable, remarkable, remarkable group of people, I mean that sincerely – except for Milley, I’m not so sure,” he joked, relaying the conversation to the senior officers. “Actually, I don’t want to – I’ve embarrassed him. I said, ‘You know, I’m going to really miss you.’ He said, ‘I’m not going anywhere yet. Don’t get sentimental on me, Biden. I’m from Boston.’”
Brown commissioned into the Air Force in 1984 after graduating from Texas Tech University’s ROTC program. An F-16 fighter pilot with more than 3,000 hours of flying experience, Brown has served as the deputy commander of US Central Command and the commander of Pacific Air Forces among his other assignments. In August 2020, he became the chief of staff of the Air Force.