In transitioning from a high-profile and polarizing predecessor, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, a former F-16 pilot known as “Swamp Thing,” is set to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As the war in Ukraine shows the increasing importance of air defense and U.S.-China relations deteriorate, Brown is expected to prioritize keeping the military out of political entanglements.
A Change of Leadership
Brown steps into the critical role following the tenure of Mark Milley, whose actions often stirred controversy. Milley’s term was marked by crucial decisions made during the Ukraine crisis. He tried to manage the balance between aiding Ukraine and avoiding a direct conflict with Russia. However, his public appearance with former President Donald Trump during protests in 2020 generated significant criticism and heightened political tensions.
A New Approach to Leadership
Gen. Brown, the second African-American to hold this position, is anticipated to bring a more measured and soft-spoken approach to the role. Known for his introspective nature, he is expected to prioritize keeping the military apolitical, a quality well recognized by his colleagues.
Heather Wilson, former Secretary of the Air Force, told the Financial Times newspaper, “CQ was always scrupulous about that, and I would expect no less. He understands the role of the military in a republic, and I think he will do that well.”
A Legacy of Service
Brown, a former Pacific Air Forces commander, will be at the helm in 2027, a crucial year given China’s intentions concerning Taiwan. As the Air Force chief of staff, he pushed for fundamental changes in how the service prepares for potential conflict with China, advocating for rapid modernization and restructuring efforts.
With a deep-rooted military background, he has a profound appreciation for the role of the armed forces, often emphasizing the need for candid discussions and post-meeting deliberations.
Striving for Apolitical Leadership
As the new chairman, Brown is set to prioritize the military’s fundamental role within a democratic republic and strive for a more unified and focused approach in the face of complex global challenges.
In this era of heightened geopolitical tensions, Brown’s tenure comes at a crucial juncture. He seeks to build on a legacy defined by service and leadership, aiming to maintain a disciplined and apolitical military during a time of great uncertainty.
As he embarks on this new role, the eyes of the nation will be upon him, watching how he navigates the path to secure the interests of the United States while upholding the values that define its armed forces.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.