Senate Unanimously Confirms First Black Service Chief

Gen. Charles Brown is new Air Force chief of staff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2020 5:32 PM CDT
Senate Confirms First Black Service Chief
In this May 7, 2020, photo Charles Q. Brown, Jr., nominated for reappointment to the grade of General and to Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee nomination hearing.   (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP, File)

(Newser) – The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed Gen. Charles Brown Jr. as chief of staff of the US Air Force, making him the first black officer to lead one of the nation's military services. Vice President Mike Pence took the unusual step of presiding over the vote, something he usually does to break ties. But Brown's confirmation, 98-0, was not close. Pence called the moment “historic." Brown most recently served as the commander of US Pacific Air Forces. He is a fighter pilot, with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 in combat. He posted a video on social media Friday describing a lifetime of dealing with racial bias and the struggle to fit in to a predominantly white society, the AP reports.

"I’m thinking about my Air Force career where I was often the only African American in my squadron or, as a senior officer, the only African American in the room,” he said in a raw tone. “I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’” The military, with African Americans making up a little over 17% of its active-duty ranks, is more racially diverse than the country, which is 13% African American, according to 2019 Census estimates. But there is a much greater racial divide within the active-duty military based on rank. Nineteen percent of active-duty enlisted troops are black, but they make up only 9% of the officer corps.

(Read more Air Force stories.)

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