Air Force general tapped as first black head of US military
General Charles Brown. (Photo: Breaking Defense)

WASHINGTON, United States, (AFP) – US President Joe Biden announced the history making nomination Thursday of General Charles Brown for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauding the black career pilot as a hero who'd not only survived ejecting from a fighter jet into a swamp but fought against racism.

If confirmed by the Senate, "CQ" Brown, as he's known, will become Biden's top military advisor. And he'd join Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in the historic first of African Americans filling the two top military jobs.

"General Brown is a warrior descended from a proud line of warriors," Biden said in the White House Rose Garden, noting Brown's military family.

As a pilot with 3,000 hours logged, including 130 in combat, Brown "knows what it means to be in the thick of battle and how to keep your cool," Biden told the nomination ceremony.

Drawing laughter, Biden recounted how Brown's F-16 jet once caught fire and he ejected into a Florida swamp. "A lot of fun, huh?" Biden chuckled.

Biden praised the general as someone whose career has given him "unmatched first-hand knowledge" of US military operations around the world, earning respect from "our allies and partners."

"He plays to win," Biden said, and "that is going to be an enormous asset to me as commander in chief and to the United States of America, as we navigate challenges in the coming years."

As the Pentagon's top military officer, Brown would work to "maintain a combat force capable of deterring and defeating any potential threat," Biden said. "And we have to manage our competition with China and meet the reality of renewed (Russian) aggression in Europe."

Brown would also be presiding over an era where "emerging technologies, from AI to 3D printing could fundamentally change the character of conflict," the president said.

Biden, who has made a priority of raising minorities to top positions in his government, cast the nomination of Brown as part of celebrating "the most American of ideas, the most evident truth -- that all women and men are created equal."

Biden recalled Brown's previous testimony on "his own experience of racism and his deep love of our country," saying to speak out had taken "real backbone."

If confirmed in the Senate, Brown will replace Army General Mark Milley, whose four-year term included serving through the end of the chaotic Donald Trump presidency.

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