President Biden on May 25 announced his pick to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS)–U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, a former F-16 combat pilot who has had a close look at U.S. military operations around the world, including as the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command and then as the head of Pacific Air Forces before he became the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff in August, 2020.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Brown would be the second African-American CJCS after the late Colin Powell, who was CJCS from 1989 until 1993.
Brown’s call to the Air Force has been to “accelerate change or lose,” and he has favored retiring older weapons systems to help pay for new ones. In addition, he has been an advocate for giving companies, including Google [GOOGL], a first hand-view of Air Force operations.
“A lot of things get done based on relationships, including figuring out how to get around the process and the policies,” Brown said of the Air Force last month. “Instead of having an exception to the policy, sometimes I think, ‘Just change the policy so the exception becomes the new rule.’ That’s the way we’ve gotta operate in the future to make sure we can move as fast as we need to.”
As Air Force chief, Brown has emphasized the revitalization of electronic warfare (EW) in the service.
In June 2021, the Air Force stood up the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing under Air Combat Command to focus on offensive EW and consolidate all Air Force electromagnetic spectrum efforts (Defense Daily, June 25, 2021).
Brown has said that the service has not focused on EW and has allowed its atrophy since Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Brown said that while defensive EW has sufficed against threats from foreign violent extremists, the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing will be critical in countering Russia and China.
In a May 25 ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to announce Brown as the pick to be the next CJCS, Biden said that Brown “has an unmatched first hand knowledge of our operational theaters and a strategic vision to understand how they all work together to ensure the security of the American people.”
Brown is to succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley who became CJCS on Oct. 1, 2019 after serving as Army chief of staff.