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Charles Brown becomes chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: What we know about him

Charles Brown becomes chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff: What we know about him Photo: Charles Brown (Getty Images)

Starting today, October 1, American General Charles Brown officially became the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States. He replaced Mark Milley in this position.

In the material below, RBC-Ukraine analyzes what is known about American General Brown and why his appointment is important for Ukraine.

Sources used to prepare this material: the press service of the U.S. Department of Defense, The New York Times, Washington Post, Air and Space Forces, "Viiskovyi Kurier," TIME, Politico.

What is the Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces is the highest leadership body for the United States military. It includes high-ranking officials from the country's Armed Forces, including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Space Force. The Chief of the National Guard Bureau is also part of this group.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is appointed by the President of the United States for a four-year term and must be confirmed by the Senate.

Therefore, the replacement of Mark Milley with Charles Brown is a planned rotation, as the former has already served his term in this position.

The main role in this position is to advise the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense on military matters, as well as perform other duties.

Mark Milley's legacy

Mark Alexander Milley is an American military leader who served as the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States. He led the committee since October 2019. This military leader represented the U.S. Army.

Milley, who is 65 years old, was one of the Western military leaders with whom the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, frequently communicated, at least since the time of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Армію США очолив Чарльз Браун. Хто це і що він говорить про війну між Україною та РФ

Photo: Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, Mark Milley (Getty Images)

In one of his interviews, Zaluzhnyi mentioned that he and Milley could communicate several times a week, and these conversations sometimes lasted for hours. The Ukrainian general stated that he could openly share his concerns with his American counterpart.

"We have an agreement: 24/7, we’re in touch. So, sometimes I can call up and say, ‘If I don’t get 100,000 shells in a week, 1,000 people will die. Step into my shoes," Zaluzhnyi candidly shared with The Washington Post journalists.

Regarding his last conversation with the American counterpart, Zaluzhnyi wrote about it on September 26. they discussed the situation on the front lines and the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, noting that it was a concluding conversation since the American general would soon step down from his position.

General Milley is known for his cautious but occasionally controversial statements regarding the war in Ukraine.

Last fall, as reported by The New York Times, citing sources, Milli seemed to support negotiations between Ukraine and Russia and called for them to begin. But in May of this year, he stated that Moscow would have to sit down at the negotiating table itself, as the Russians have no chance of winning.

Who is Charles Brown: Biography and career

The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is known as Charles Quinton "CQ" Brown Jr. He was born in 1962 in a military family in San Antonio, Texas.

His father, Charles Sr., served in the military for 30 years, reaching the rank of colonel. His paternal grandfather, Robert E. Brown, was drafted during World War II and participated in combat in the Pacific theater, including battles in Hawaii and Saipan.

Before his military career, Charles Brown obtained a civilian education. He holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Texas Tech University.

After that, Brown joined the United States Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). He got his first lieutenant rank there and earned a master's degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida in 1994.

Армію США очолив Чарльз Браун. Хто це і що він говорить про війну між Україною та РФ

Photo: Charles Brown, a professional F-16 pilot (Getty Images)

From 1985 onwards, Brown held various positions, including serving as an instructor for F-16 fighter jets at the United States Air Force Weapons School. He worked as a defense analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia.

Brown also commanded a fighter squadron and two fighter wings, one of which was the 8th Fighter Wing, nicknamed the "Wolf Pack," based at Kunsan Air Force Base in South Korea.

He served as the director of operations, strategic deterrence, and nuclear integration at the headquarters of the United States Air Forces in Europe-Africa at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

He is known for personally logging 2,900 flight hours on F-16 fighter jets, including 130 hours of combat flight.

He was promoted to the rank of Major General in 2013 and appointed as the Deputy Commander, and later the Commander, of the United States Air Forces Central Command just two years later. After the summer of 2016, he became the Deputy Commander of the entire United States Central Command. He led all military aviation operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Two years later, Brown was appointed as the commander of the United States Pacific Air Forces. In this position, he was promoted to the rank of four-star general and oversaw all major operations of the American Pacific Air Forces in the Indo-Pacific region.

In 2020, during the presidency of Donald Trump, Charles Brown was appointed as the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, whose responsibilities included advising the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council on military aviation matters.

Армію США очолив Чарльз Браун. Хто це і що він говорить про війну між Україною та РФ

Photo: Braun served in Europe when Russia occupied Crimea in 2014 (Getty Images)

If we summarize Charles Brown's career, he started as a professional pilot and instructor on F-16 fighter jets and eventually rose to the position of Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. Notably, in 2020, he was listed in TIME magazine's 100 most influential people on the planet as the first African American to lead a branch of the U.S. armed forces.

On May 25, 2023, during his address, current U.S. President Joe Biden officially announced the replacement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later, Brown's candidacy was supported by 83 out of 100 representatives in the U.S. Senate. General Charles Brown now occupies Mark Milley's position.

The Washington Post states that Biden considers Brown as an "experienced tactician who understands the strategic challenges facing the United States."

The American leader characterizes him as "descended from a proud line of warriors" who knows "what it means to be in the thick of battle."

What he says about the war in Ukraine and threats from Russia and China

The specialized American magazine Air and Space Forces notes that Brown's knowledge and personal contacts with key foreign military leaders in various regions can influence his advice to Biden in addressing urgent issues such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's continued aggression towards Taiwan and other countries in the Pacific region.

Commenting on the war in Ukraine, Brown stated that it showed the consequences when one side lacks air superiority.

In Ukraine, General Brown emphasized the strong ground-based air defense on both sides of the conflict, which significantly forced aircraft to stay away from the front lines.

On the other hand, Russia relied on drones and long-range missiles, while Ukraine now has some air strike capabilities thanks to long-range Storm Shadow missiles and American-guided JDAM bombs.

Brown wrote that the U.S. and its allies should improve their missile defense systems in the region to prevent mass attacks in the conflict, to some extent, considering the threats from China and Russia.

The American general also stated that China and Russia, by posing challenges to the United States, remained committed to their desire to impose their international order after declaring a partnership in February 2022.

Армію США очолив Чарльз Браун. Хто це і що він говорить про війну між Україною та РФ

Photo: Brown stated that China and Russia pose unique challenges to the United States (Getty Images)

"While China does not openly criticize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Beijing does openly blame NATO and supports the Russian war effort through economic, diplomatic, public support, and non-lethal military means. We must reinforce the norm against territorial conquest, as a key element of preserving global stability," Brown stated.

Crucial moment for Ukraine

It remains crucial that Brown assumed the position of Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff at a "crucial moment for Ukraine," according to Politico.

As the media notes, he will have to strike a balance between Europe and escalating differences regarding aid to Ukraine in the United States, all while avoiding involving American troops in a full-scale conflict or triggering a nuclear war.

At the same time, it is noted that Brown will have to continue considering Kyiv's requests for more modern weaponry. Anonymous Ukrainian officials commented to Politico that Ukraine is optimistic that Brown will advocate for providing more modern weaponry.

Reportedly, Kyiv has a favorable impression of the American general. Journalists write that Brown and Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force General David Allvin, who was appointed to replace Brown, have been consistent supporters of providing Ukraine with modern drones and F-16 fighter jets from the very beginning.

As the specialized media "Viiskovyi Kurier" reports, it is no less important that Biden nominated General Brown for the position of Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff at a time when the issue of transferring F-16s to Ukraine had stalled.

Moreover, Politico sources note that Brown and Zaluzhnyi have developed friendly relations. Additionally, the U.S. general has productive relationships with defense leaders worldwide and apparently with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.

Some Western media outlets tend to believe that, with General Brown taking on his new position, the United States is unlikely to fundamentally change its approach to Russia and China. However, the key factor remains that Brown will be Biden's top military advisor and advisor to U.S. Defense Secretary Austin. This means that the opinion of the American general on a range of issues, including assistance to Ukraine, will carry weight.