Gen. Charles Q. “CQ” Brown, Jr., the commander of Pacific Air Forces, a decorated pilot who has held key commands and served as a military adviser at the highest levels, has been nominated to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper announced March 2, 2020.
If confirmed by the Senate, Brown would assume one of the two highest positions in the Air Force from Gen. David L. Goldfein, who is retiring June 30 after four years as Chief of Staff. Brown would be the first African-American to serve as a service chief.
“I am truly honored and humbled by the nomination to serve as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff,” he said. “If confirmed, Sharene and I look forward to building upon the legacy of Gen. Dave and Dawn Goldfein and the many airpower giants before who have served our Air Force and our nation with such dedication.”
Brown, known across the Force as “CQ,” will take command of an Air Force in transition, one moving from a decades-long priority on combating and containing terrorism to a new era of Great Power Competition. As part of that new focus, the Air Force and entire U.S. military must be trained, ready and properly equipped to confront, deter and if necessary, defeat, challenges from Russia and China. It also comes at a time of heightened challenges from North Korea and other geopolitical shifts across Asia.
Brown is deeply familiar with the Korean Peninsula and Asia. That is a result of his command of Pacific Air Forces, a sprawling endeavor in which he leads 46,000 Airmen spread over half the globe and devises policies and tactics that guarantee mission success in an increasingly complex and dangerous part of the world.
“The United States Air Force will be well served by the formidable talents of CQ Brown,” Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said. “He has unmatched strategic vision and operational expertise. His leadership will be instrumental as the service continues to focus on the capabilities and talent we need to implement the National Defense Strategy.”
As Chief of Staff, Brown will play a central role in fully integrating and connecting warfighting operations that allows information to be collected, analyzed and shared across all domains – air, sea, land, cyber and space – and among all services.
“CQ Brown is one of the finest warriors our Air Force has ever produced. He’s led worldwide – in the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” Gen. Goldfein said. “When it comes to global, operational savvy there’s nobody stronger. Congratulations to Gen. Brown on his nomination to be our next Chief.”
As Chief of Staff, Brown will also be a principal ally and partner in supporting the newly created Space Force.
“Gen. CQ Brown is the right strategic leader at the right time for the United States Air Force,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations. “He clearly understands the evolving and complex strategic environment we face and recognizes the importance of integrating across all domains to compete, deter and win. On behalf of the 16,000 men and women assigned to the United States Space Force, congratulations on the nomination!”
Brown will sit as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and represent the Air Force to the public, to Congress, industry partners as well as allies. The Chief of Staff is responsible for devising and articulating Air Force priorities, for shaping the service’s culture, budget and priorities as well as organizing, training and equipping the Air Force’s 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian personnel.
“Gen. Dave Goldfein has been a tireless servant leader as Chief of Staff in championing the Air Force our nation needs. This is important, yet difficult work that will only grow more complicated as the security environment continuously changes in this era of Great Power Competition,” Esper said.
“With Gen. CQ Brown’s nomination, comes the right level of talent and experience for the job to hone Airman lethality and readiness; strengthen bonds with allied and partner air forces, and to do this efficiently,” he said.
Brown’s background and education, his commands and experience, position him well for the demands and expectations of the job.
He graduated in 1984 from Texas Tech University with a degree in civil engineering and earned his commission – with distinction – through Air Force ROTC.
Throughout his 35-year career, Brown has been guided by what he describes as his “four tenets” – execute at a high standard; be disciplined in execution; pay attention to the details; and have fun.
“Regardless of our respective ranks and positions, we must execute to the best of our abilities and we must do it right the first time because the application of airpower is serious business where half-hearted efforts and playing for second place are not options,” he said during a 2018 speech.
A command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours primarily in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including 130 combat hours, Brown held key roles in operations against Libya and in the air war against the Islamic State group. Across his career, Brown has commanded a fighter squadron, two fighter wings and U.S. Air Forces Central Command. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command.
He also held other senior positions that will serve him well as the service’s chief military officer. They include serving as commandant of the Air Force Weapons School from 2005 to 2007 and, from March 2014 to June 2015, as director, Operations, Strategic Deterrence, and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
Importantly, he also has an up-close understanding of the Chief of Staff, having served as Aide-de-Camp to the 15th Chief of Staff, Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman and as the Executive Action Group Director for the 22nd Secretary of the Air Force, Michael B. Donley and 19th Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz. He also served as a National Defense Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses.
“It is an absolute privilege for Sharene and I to represent our Airmen and families and we remain committed to serving them each day with the unwavering support that will ensure we remain the greatest Air Force in the world,” Brown said.