General Mark Milley’s departure as the top US military officer marks the end of a tumultuous term characterized by repeated crises at home and abroad. General CQ Brown is set to replace him, making history as the second Black officer, after Colin Powell, to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This transition occurs as the Pentagon is headed by Lloyd Austin, the first Black secretary of defense in the country’s history.
Milley’s tenure as chairman was marked by a series of crises, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Donald Trump’s refusal to accept his election loss, and nationwide protests against police brutality. Supporters credit him with helping protect the country from Trump’s actions, but he has also faced intense criticism from the former president and his followers.
Milley’s departure coincides with a period when the US military, particularly its leadership, has been under fire from conservative politicians and pundits, primarily over allegations of imposing “woke” policies on the armed forces.
General CQ Brown, commissioned as a US Air Force officer in 1984, boasts significant experience as a pilot, with over 3,000 flight hours, including 130 in combat. He has held leadership roles, commanding a fighter squadron, two fighter wings, US air forces under the Central Command and Indo-Pacific Command, and serving as the chief of staff of the Air Force.
In response to the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in 2020, Brown shared a personal video recounting his own experiences with discrimination within the American military. He expressed the pressure he felt to perform flawlessly and the need to work twice as hard to defy expectations that stemmed from his racial background.
Brown’s nomination faced delays, along with more than 300 others, due to a dispute over Pentagon policies related to reproductive health care for troops stationed where it is unavailable. A single Republican senator opposing these efforts prevented lawmakers from swiftly approving senior military nominees, with Brown ultimately receiving individual confirmation.