Shortburst Special Edition: Congrats to General Brown; saluting General Milley
It is terrific to hear that General CQ Brown was confirmed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS)! It is great to have such a superb officer (and former LENS conference speaker!) on the job as CJCS. Here’s what I said last May when General Brown was nominated:
The President has nominated Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles (“CQ”) Q. Brown to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lawfire® readers may recall that General Brown was a speaker in 2021 for our 26th Annual National Security Law conference.
I met General Brown (then a colonel) when our Pentagon assignments overlapped in 2008-2009. He was serving as the director of the Air Force’s Executive Action Group, and I was the deputy in the Office of the Judge Advocate General.
We ran across each other from time to time and I found him to be not only smart and thoughtful, but also very straightforward and businesslike. Most importantly, if he told you something, you could ‘take it to the bank’.
A news report said this about him recently (and I think it’s very accurate):
“Brown is widely respected by service leaders and outside observers as one of the military’s most thoughtful and transformative leaders. In his two-and-a-half years leading the Air Force, Brown sought to rapidly reshape its structure, move off old and outdated aircraft ill-suited for a future war, and change how the service prepares for a possible war against China — an effort he calls “Accelerate Change or Lose.””
Here’s how the Pentagon describes the duties of the CJCS:
The Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986 identifies the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the senior ranking member of the Armed Forces. As such, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the President. He may seek the advice of and consult with the other JCS members and combatant commanders. When he presents his advice, he presents the range of advice and opinions he has received, along with any individual comments of the other JCS members.
Though it comes as a surprise to many people, the CJCS is prohibited by law from exercising any “any command authority.” Command authority or not, General Brown’s nomination is really good news for the country!
General Brown takes over at a time when the U.S. military is facing a wide variety of complicated challenges. However, I find he is the kind of person who is actually energized by challenges (and I’d be a lot of people in the Air Force would agree with that!) so I expect him to ‘hit the ground running.’ This is clearly a win-win for the nation.
A word about General Mark Milley who General Brown is replacing. I haven’t always been a fan of everything he’s done (see here and here), but he has a magnificent record of selfless service, and is someone who certainly did what he believed was right.
I also think he performed a very great service for the nation when sought to calm the angst of many Americans over the disgraceful events of January 6h. Here’s an extract from a recent (Sept. 17) interview with ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz:
“You saw what happened on Jan. 6. Are you nervous about that happening again? Can you honestly say you’re not nervous about that happening again?” ABC “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz asked the chairman in an interview that aired Sunday.
“No, I’m not nervous about it,” Milley said. “I don’t get nervous about a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of combat. So I’m beyond that actually.”
Raddatz followed up, asking Milley whether he’s “confident” what happened that day will not happen again.
“I am confident that the United States and the democracy in this country will prevail and the rule of law will prevail,” Milley said. “These institutions are built to be strong, resilient and to adapt to the times, and I’m 100% confident we’ll be fine.”
When Raddatz pressed him, Milley added:
“The United States, you know, Martha, has been under a lot of challenges over the years. … There’s a term I’ve talked to people about the ‘conceit of the present,’ where people think that the present is always the worst. Well, it’s not always the worst,” Milley said.
He cited what he described as “tough times” for the country, including several wars, the Great Depression and the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
“This is not the toughest time. America will prevail, it will come through stronger on the other end and the American people are gonna be just fine,” he said.
Americans needed to hear this from its most senior military officer. Let’s hope that in retirement General Milley continues to use his powerful intellect to help the nation finds its way through difficult times. For now, let’s salute the service of a great American!