President Donald Trump, who saluted the achievements of America’s black aviators during his State of the Union message, is breaking barriers with the nomination of Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. to serve as the Air Force’s chief of staff.
Brown, if confirmed by the Senate, will be the first black Air Force chief of staff, according to The New York Times.
Brown currently is the commander of America’s Pacific Air Forces as well as air component commander for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, according to a Defense Department statement.
“I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” Brown said in an Air Force statement. “If confirmed, Sharene [his wife] and I look forward to building upon the legacy of Gen. Dave and Dawn Goldfein and the many airpower giants before who have served our Air Force and our nation with such dedication.”
Air Force leaders tweeted their support for Brown:
“The USAF will be well served by the formidable talents of CQ Brown,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett tweeted. “He has unmatched strategic vision & operational expertise. His leadership will be instrumental as the service continues to focus on the capabilities & talent we need to implement the #NDS.” The NDS is the National Defense Strategy.
Outgoing Air Force chief of staff Gen. David Goldfein also praised Brown:
“Congratulations to Gen CQ Brown on his nomination to be our next Chief. He’s led worldwide — in the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“When it comes to global, operational savvy there’s nobody stronger — one of the finest warriors our @usairforce has ever produced,” he tweeted.
Brown will be the first black member of Joint Chiefs of Staff since Gen. Colin Powell, who chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.
Among the challenges for Brown will be the development of the Space Force.
“Gen. CQ Brown is the right strategic leader at the right time for the United States Air Force,” Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, said. “He clearly understands the evolving and complex strategic environment we face and recognizes the importance of integrating across all domains to compete, deter and win. On behalf of the 16,000 men and women assigned to the United States Space Force, congratulations on the nomination!”
Brown graduated from Texas Tech University in 1984 with a degree in civil engineering and received a master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1994. Brown participated in ROTC while at Texas Tech.
The Air Force, in its statement, said Brown has 2,900 flying hours primarily in the F-16, including 130 combat hours that involved operations against Libya and against the Islamic State.
Brown has led a fighter squadron, two fighter wings and U.S. Air Forces Central Command. He has also served as the deputy commander, U.S. Central Command.
“He’s got fantastic operational experience,” former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, according to Air Force Times. “He tends to be popular with his troops. People want to follow him — he doesn’t lead out of fear, he leads through the inspiration he brings to the table.”
“General McGee, our nation salutes you. Thank you, sir,” Trump said then. “From the pilgrims to the Founders, from the soldiers at Valley Forge to the marchers at Selma, and from President Lincoln to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Americans have always rejected limits on our children’s future.”