President Donald Trump’s historic selection for the next Air Force chief of staff was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday.
Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was confirmed 98-0, NPR reported. Brown became the first black American to lead a branch of the military.
Trump celebrated the occasion on Twitter.
“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” he wrote.
“A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”
My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate. A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2020
Last week, Brown posted his thoughts as protests raged over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“As the commander of Pacific Air Forces, a senior leader in our Air Force, and an African-American, many of you may be wondering what I’m thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd,” Brown said in the opening moments of the video.
“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African-Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” he went on.
“I’m thinking about protests in my country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, the equality expressed in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I have sworn my adult life to support and defend. I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”
“As the Commander of Pacific Air Forces, a senior leader in our Air Force, and an African-American, many of you may be wondering what I’m thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd. Here’s what I’m thinking about…” – Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. pic.twitter.com/I2sf1067L6
— PACAF (@PACAF) June 5, 2020
Brown talked about living in “two worlds” as an Air Force officer and a black American.
“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,” Brown said.
“I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit, with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’”
Brown said the price of potential failure was higher for him because of his race.
“I’m thinking about the pressure I felt to perform error-free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less from me as an African-American. I’m thinking about having to represent by working twice as hard to prove their expectations and perceptions of African-Americans were invalid,” he said.
Brown noted that he owed a debt to others who served before him. Among those is Charles McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II who in January was given an honorary promotion to brigadier general by the president.
“I’m thinking about the African-Americans who went before me to make this opportunity possible,” Brown continued. “I’m thinking about the immense expectations that come with this historic nomination, particularly through the lens of current events plaguing our nation.”
Brown said he will do his best in his new role to create a better future.
“I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force,” he said. “I’m thinking about how I can make improvements.”
Prior to his confirmation, Brown was 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.
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 has said that 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 Force’s Central Command. He has also served as the deputy commander, U.S. Central Command.
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