Hawaii-based Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the commander of Pacific Air Forces, has been nominated as the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced today.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Brown, who goes by “CQ,” will be the first African American service chief, the Air Force said. The only other African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff was Army Gen. Colin Powell, who was chairman from 1988 to 1993, according to Air Force Magazine.
Brown is expected to take over the Air Force leadership position from Gen. David L. Goldfein, who is retiring June 30 after four years on the job.
As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Brown will represent the Air Force to the public, Congress, industry partners and allies.
“I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” Brown said in a news release. “If confirmed, Sharene 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.”
The Air Force said Brown, who is headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, will take command of an Air Force in transition — “one moving from a decades-long priority on combating and containing terrorism to a new era of great power competition.”
“As part of that new focus, the Air Force and entire U.S. military must be trained, ready and properly equipped to confront, deter and if necessary, defeat, challenges from Russia and China. It also comes at a time of heightened challenges from North Korea and other geopolitical shifts across Asia,” the service said.
An August report by the United States Studies Centre in Sydney concluded that the combined effect of nearly two decades of counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East, budget austerity and underinvestment in advanced weapons left America with an atrophying force that is “ill-prepared for great power competition in the Indo-Pacific.”
Despite the study’s conclusion that America had lost its “military primacy” in the region, Brown, in a September interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and another media outlet, said the United States still had the advantage.
“I wouldn’t say that our advantage is completely lost — counter to what the study said,” Brown said.
The United States has key pluses that China doesn’t have: the quality of its platforms, the quality of its airmen and the quality of its relationships.
“We have good relationships with a number of countries (that we) exercise with across the region. You don’t see that with China,” he said. U.S. forces have been combat-tested around the world in recent years.
“We want to be the partner of choice from a security perspective — and I think we are in a lot of areas,” Brown said.
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said Brown has “unmatched strategic vision and operational expertise. His leadership will be instrumental as the service continues to focus on the capabilities and talent we need to implement the National Defense Strategy.”
Brown is “deeply familiar” with the Korean Peninsula and Asia and leads 46,000 airmen spread over half the globe, the Air Force said. He took command of Pacific Air Forces, with more than 300 assigned fighter and attack aircraft, on July 26, 2018.
The chief of staff is responsible for formulating Air Force priorities and shaping the service’s culture, budget and priorities as well as organizing, training and equipping its 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian personnel, the service said.
“CQ Brown is one of the finest warriors our Air Force has ever produced. He’s led worldwide – in the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Goldfein said in the Air Force release. “When it comes to global, operational savvy there’s nobody stronger. Congratulations to Gen. Brown on his nomination to be our next chief.”
As chief of staff, Brown will also be a “principal ally and partner” in supporting the newly created Space Force, the Air Force said.
Brown graduated in 1984 from Texas Tech University with a degree in civil engineering and earned his commission through Air Force ROTC.
He is a command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours primarily in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including 130 combat hours, and held key roles in operations against Libya and in the air war against the Islamic State, according to the Air Force.