Joe Biden is expected to nominate Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, succeeding Army Gen. Mark Milley. Brown, who currently serves as the chief of staff of the Air Force, has made diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) a central focus of his leadership.
In November 2020, Brown said during a virtual discussion hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that diversity had moved to the forefront of personnel decisions in the Air Force, including promotions and hiring. However, critics argue that prioritizing DEI ideology over merit-based qualifications could weaken the military’s effectiveness.
Biden’s Pick For Joint Chiefs Chair Made ‘Diversity’ And ‘Inclusion’ Focal Points In Air Force Personnel Decisions
— Constitutionalist 💯 🇺🇲 (@Kc_Casey1) May 9, 2023
Although much of the mainstream media’s coverage of Brown’s potential nomination has emphasized his race as a Black man, his leadership reveals a strong commitment to advancing DEI ideology throughout the Air Force. Upon taking office, Brown said he was hired for diversity because it allowed him to hear different perspectives and strengthen the force.
Following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, the Air Force established a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to investigate demographic-related disparities within the branch and the U.S. Space Force. This task force later transitioned into the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, focusing on cultivating these qualities across both services.
Brown has actively promoted conversations about racial issues and has defended the Biden administration’s efforts to spread DEI instruction throughout the military. In February 2022, he criticized congressional Republicans who expressed concerns about this approach, saying, “If you have that approach, of opposing inclusivity efforts, you’re gonna have very few people that come serve.”
While DEI initiatives may be well-intentioned, critics argue that focusing on factors such as race and gender rather than merit could ultimately harm military effectiveness. The Biden administration’s push for DEI ideology across the Department of Defense has been controversial, with some accusing it of fostering discrimination.
If the Senate confirms Brown, he will become the second Black man to hold the position, following Army Gen. Colin Powell, who was appointed by former President George H.W. Bush in 1989. Brown’s nomination could be seen as a continuation of the Biden administration’s broader efforts to prioritize diversity and inclusion across the federal government.
Brown’s resume includes 26 assignments during his nearly 40 years of service in the Air Force. He is a command pilot with over 3,000 flying hours, including 130 combat hours. As chairman, Brown would inherit a Pentagon facing significant domestic and foreign challenges, such as Russia’s war on Ukraine, competition with China in the Indo-Pacific, and issues within U.S. military recruitment.
Ultimately, the nomination of Brown as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signals the Biden administration’s commitment to promoting DEI ideology within the military. While the consequences of this approach remain to be seen, it raises concerns among those who believe that merit should be the primary factor in personnel decisions rather than characteristics like race or gender.