‘Accelerate Change’: Biden Nearing Pick Of First Black Air Force Chief Of Staff As Joint Chiefs Chairman: REPORT

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C. Q. Brown, the service’s senior-most officer who has been outspoken on the issue of race in the military, to replace Gen. Mark Milley as his top adviser on military affairs, according to media reports.

Brown, known for his catchphrase “accelerate change,” is the first black officer to head any military branch and would become the second black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff if Biden follows through with the expected nomination, Politico reported, citing three people familiar with the deliberations. Brown has for weeks been thought the favorite candidate to succeed Milley over the other main contender, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, according to The New York Times.

However, Biden has not finalized a decision and there is no clear timeline for when he will make the announcement before Milley retires in October, Politico reported, citing a Democratic lawmaker, a congressional aide and a former Department of Defense (DOD) official “familiar with the White House’s planning,” speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When President Biden makes a final decision, he will inform the person selected and then announce it publicly,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council, of which the chairman is a member, told Politico. “That hasn’t happened yet.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Air Force Touts Plans To Track Promotions From A ‘Race, Equity And Gender Standpoint’)

Biden is waiting for the right time to make the announcement after former President Donald Trump made his decision to nominate Milley public earlier than is normally expected, the former DOD official told Politico.

Brown’s colleagues told the NYT he has had success in dealing with threats and allies in the Pacific. Prior to serving as Air Force chief of staff, Brown served as commander of U.S. Air Forces – Pacific, which would play a critical role in denying China air superiority in the event of a Taiwan contingency.

Brown also appeals to the administration’s diversity, equity and inclusion bent, Thomas Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, previously told the DCNF.

Trump nominated Brown as Air Force chief of staff on March 2, 2020, and the fighter pilot was confirmed in the Senate on June 9, according to Politico. But, shortly before being confirmed and in the midst of nationwide rioting and protests following George Floyd’s murder in 202o, Brown offered his thoughts in a video posted on social media.

“I’m thinking about my Air Force career, where I was often the only African American in my squadron, or as a senior officer the only African American in the room,” he said, referencing the imbalance in the proportion of black senior officers in the Air Force compared to lower-level and enlisted.

Since then, the Air Force has independently conducted deep-dive investigations into racial and gender discrimination in the Air Force. In February 2022, DefenseOne reported that Brown led monthly “inclusion councils” where leaders “ask some really hard questions.”

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