Biden to Nominate Air Force Chief to Succeed Milley on Thursday

WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to nominate Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown on Thursday as the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, one of them. The worst-kept secret in Washington.

If confirmed by the Senate, General Brown would be only the second black man, after Colin L. Powell, to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president’s senior military adviser.

Gen. Brown will replace Gen. Mark A. Milley, whose tenure spanned four tumultuous years that included President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to use active-duty troops against U.S. protesters. Riots at the Capitol on January 6, 2021; Chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan; And the war in Ukraine.

General Brown’s confirmation would also mean that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, along with two top Pentagon leaders, would be black for the first time in history.

General Brown, who has extensive experience in the Middle East and Asia, will join Mr. Austin in advising Mr. Biden on national security issues ranging from the war in Ukraine to China’s military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. The two men will also represent the Pentagon at congressional hearings, before often opposing Republican lawmakers have complained that the Defense Department has become too “woke.”

For example, Sen. Tommy Tuberwell, Republican of Alabama, complained during a radio interview this month that the Biden administration’s efforts to increase diversity in the military are weakening the force. “We’re losing so fast in the military, our readiness in terms of recruiting,” Mr. Tuberwell said. “And why? I’ll tell you why. Because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to take out the white extremists, the white nationalists.

He said that while Democrats consider white nationalists racist, “I call them Americans.”

In appointing yet another African-American to a senior Pentagon post, Mr. Biden may be ushering in a controversial tenure on Capitol Hill. But the president is also remaking the characters in Mr. Trump’s image, surrounded by Pentagon leaders who were exclusively white.

General Brown, a fighter pilot, defeating his closest rival, the commandant of the Marine Corps, General David H. Berger. Widely known as “CQ”, General Brown is not a talker like General Milley, who favors long historical expositions that link the military and political maneuvers of the modern past. But General Brown brings to the job the ability to meet the moment when it arises.

Take the nationwide protests surrounding the June 2020 death of George Floyd, an African-American man at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Mr Trump wanted to invoke the Sedition Act to send troops to target protesters. General Brown was several days away from them. Senate confirmation vote to become Air Force chief of staff in the Republican-led Senate, but that didn’t stop him from posting a five-minute video online that emboldened the rank and file.

“I’m so filled with emotion, not just for George Floyd, but for so many African Americans,” General Brown said in the video, an unusual move from a senior official. A public statement. Military leaders on a sensitive and politically charged issue.

“I am thinking of the protests in my country, the beloved land of the free, the equality enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I have sworn my adult life to support and defend. Thinking about my own experiences that did not always sing the song of freedom and equality.

It was an unusual move for a recently promoted general from Mr. Trump, who was angry at the time at what he saw as interference from the Pentagon over his desire to deploy troops. But the video also immediately identified General Brown as a potential successor — should he survive the remaining months of Mr. Trump’s tenure — to General Milley.

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