Air Force Chief of Staff confirmed in historic vote

Lawmakers have voted to install General Charles Q. Brown the first black service member to serve as Air Force chief of staff (COS) and the first to lead an American military branch. Gen. Brown was confirmed with a unanimous 98-0 vote and will replace Gen. Dave Goldfein as chief of staff.

Gen. Brown will be sworn in as chief of staff at a time when the Air Force is strategizing to “realign itself against the threats of a rising China and resurgent Russia,” according to Defence News. Under previous chief of staff Goldfein’s leadership, the air force had increased its emphasis on investments in space, command and control, and advanced munitions.

In responses to questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee prior to his confirmation hearing in early May, Gen. Brown recognized that the Covid-19 pandemic would put increasing constraints on the national budget. “As the Covd-19 crisis unfolds, I see an emerging challenge where our strategic aspirations and our resources available may be on divergent paths, driving future tough choices,” he said.

According to Gen. Brown’s remarks, “as we review strategic objectives and priorities in the post-Covid-19 period, and continue the journey we started to build the Air Force we need to align with the [National Defense Strategy], we have many constraints and restraints that could hamper our ability to achieve our objectives as originally envisioned.” Nevertheless, Gen. Brown’s confirmation is a recognition of his excellence as a member of the Air Force and his capability to serve as the next Chief of Staff.

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