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Biden picks historic Air Force fighter pilot to become next Joint Chiefs chairman

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that he is tapping Air Force Gen. CQ Brown Jr., a historic fighter pilot with extensive knowledge of China, to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Joint Staff.

Brown’s confirmation would mean that, for the first time, the Pentagon’s top military and civilian positions would be filled by African Americans. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the Pentagon’s first black chief, has served since the administration began. The only other black person to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was Army General Colin Powell.

The nomination was long overdue. If confirmed by the Senate, Brown would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends in October, as the nation’s next top military officer. The president plans to unveil Brown as his pick at a Rose Garden event on Thursday afternoon.

Biden saw Brown as the right person for the job because of his work modernizing the U.S. fleet of aircraft and nuclear arsenal and his years of experience designing U.S. defenses to deal with the surge. of China, a senior administration official said. He has also been deeply involved in the Pentagon’s effort to arm Ukraine with billions of dollars in US weapons as kyiv tries to beat back the Russian invasion by 15 months.

Brown has commanded at every possible level in the Air Force and in joint commands, including Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He also helped build and lead the US air campaign against the Islamic State militant group.

Brown is a career F-16 fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours and command experience at all levels. He broke down barriers throughout his career. He was the first commander of the Black Pacific Air Force, where he led the country’s air strategy to counter China in the Indo-Pacific as Beijing rapidly militarized islands in the South China Sea. and was testing the range of its bombers with flights near Guam.

Three years ago, he became the first black Air Force Chief of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the service, which also made him the first African American to lead the one of the military branches.

Over the past year, Brown has been widely seen as the favorite to replace Milley as the Pentagon shifts from preparing for major land wars of the past to deterring potential future conflict with Beijing.

That effort could hinge heavily on the military’s ability to respond quickly to China’s growing power in cyberwarfare, space, nuclear weapons and hypersonics, all areas Brown has focused heavily on. years as military leader of the Air Force, in order to modernize American air power. for a fight of the 21st century.

Brown’s confirmation, however, could be delayed. Republican Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has blocked military nominations over his objections to Pentagon policy that provides travel funds and support to troops and dependents to seek a range of reproductive health care, including abortions, if based in states where they are now illegal.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest ranking military officer in the nation and serves as the principal military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council. The president does not command any troops and is not officially part of the chain of command. But the president plays a vital role in all major military matters, from political decisions to advice on major combat operations, and leads meetings with all the chiefs of staff who lead the various armed forces.

As Air Force chief, Brown pushed to modernize America’s nuclear capabilities, including the next-generation stealth bomber that will soon fly, and led efforts to get rid of aging warplanes so that there are funds to move forward with a new fleet of unmanned systems. He also supported the development of the US Space Force, which received many of its early Guardians and capabilities from the Air Force.

Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed reporting.


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