Three Big Staffing Moves at White House

Gen. CQ Brown Jr. apparent pick for Joint Chiefs of Staff chair; Wolensky exits; Neera Tanden to replace Susan Rice
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2023 1:45 PM CDT
Biden Kicks Off Weekend With Administration Shake-Up
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, center, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, left, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr. are seen in the East Room of the White House on April 28 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden is expected to nominate a history-making Air Force fighter pilot general with years of experience in shaping US defenses to meet China's rise to serve as the nation's next top military officer, according to two people familiar with the decision. If confirmed by the Senate, Air Force Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown Jr. would replace the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term ends in October. Brown has long been considered a front-runner for the position, and Biden is likely to announce his nomination shortly, per the AP. While Brown wouldn't be the first Black chairman—the late Army Gen. Colin Powell was the first—it would be the first time that both the Pentagon's top military and civilian leadership positions were held by African Americans.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon chief, has been in the job since the beginning of the administration. Brown is a career F-16 fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours and command experience at all levels. For the last year he's been widely viewed as the front-runner to replace Milley, as the Pentagon shifts from preparing for the major land wars of the past to deterring a potential future conflict with Beijing. That effort could depend heavily upon the military's ability to rapidly meet China's rise in cyberwar, space, nuclear weapons, and hypersonics, all areas Brown has sharply focused on for the last several years as the Air Force's top military leader. That isn't the only announcement regarding the Biden administration:

  • Susan Rice: Also on Friday, the president announced that Susan Rice will be stepping down as domestic policy adviser this month, with her replacement to be White House senior adviser Neera Tanden, reports CNN. Tanden had been Biden's pick in 2021 to head the Office of Management and Budget, but she wasn't able to whip up enough Senate support and so withdrew her nomination.
  • CDC's Wolensky: And a third change to Biden's inner circle: On the same day that the WHO announced an end to the COVID-19 global health emergency, an emotional CDC Director Rochelle Wolensky announced she was stepping down from her post on June 30. "I took on this role with the goal of leaving behind the dark days of the pandemic and moving the CDC—and public health—into a much better and more trusted place," she said in a staff email, per the New York Times.
(More Joint Chiefs of Staff stories.)

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