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First African American military service chief appointed

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gen. Charles Brown to serve as the Air Force Chief of Staff, making him the first African American to lead a military service branch.

Brown’s nomination was approved unanimously with Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the Senate for the vote. Brown is only the second African American to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

President Donald Trump nominated Brown to serve as Chief of Staff of the Air Force in March and he was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee in mid-May. His nomination was held up, however, by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan who had questions on where the Air Force would base the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker.

Sullivan took to the Senate floor Tuesday to offer his support for Brown.

“He is literally on the front lines in implementing the National Defense Strategy, which has a focus on great power competition, particularly China as the pacing threat to our nation for the next 50 to 100 years,” Sullivan said. “Gen. Brown is in that battle right now, front-lines every day.”

Trump praised Brown’s confirmation on Twitter saying that is was a historic day for America.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate. A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader,” the president tweeted.

Brown replaces Gen. David Goldfein, who is retiring. He previously served as Commander of Pacific Air Forces. He is a veteran combat pilot who has logged more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 combat hours.

The confirmation comes during a rough period in America where the death of George Floyd has led to weeks of protesting and unrest.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” said Brown in a video response to Floyd’s death. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues, and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality. I’m thinking about living in two worlds, each with their own perspectives and views.”

Brown will now be the most senior African American leader in the Pentagon since Colin Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

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