Lawmakers have voted to install General Charles Q. Brown as Air Force Chief of Staff, marking the first time a black service member has led an American military branch in the role.

Gen. Brown will be sworn in during a period of strategic realignment, necessitated by “the threats of a rising China and resurgent Russia” (Defence News). Under the leadership of former chief of staff David L. Goldfein, the Air Force prioritized investment in space, command and control and advanced munitions.

In response to questioning by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Brown recognized that the Covid-19 pandemic would increase constraints on the national budget – “As the Covid-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.”

Gen. Brown acknowledges that Air Force will not be insulated from the economic consequences of the pandemic – “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 recognition of his excellence as a member of the Air Force and his capability to serve as chief of staff.