The US Air Force has officially welcomed its 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown, to the position following a ‘Transfer of Responsibility’ ceremony presided over by Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett.
Among those paying tribute were Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley,. The appointment of Gen Brown, makes him the first African American in history to lead a military service as its highest-ranking officer.
The ceremony also honoured outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldfein, as Secretary Esper presented him with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Gen Brown said, "Today is possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me serving as an inspiration to me and many others. Those like the Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O Davis jnr, Chappie James, African American leaders across our Air Force and military, past and present, to include today’s special guest, Ed Dwight, America’s first African American astronaut candidate."
Moments later in remarks to the new Chief of Staff, Secretary Esper said, "In returning to the Pentagon, Gen Brown brings with him more than 35 years of service distinguished by a depth of expertise and experience that makes him exceptionally qualified to be our nation’s next Air Force Chief of Staff. I am confident you will take the Air Force to greater heights and I’m excited to watch you lead."
In her remarks, Secretary Barrett offered similar praise for Gen Goldfein’s service and accomplishments. Like others she expressed confidence that Gen Brown has the correct mix of experience and temperament to lead the Air Force to a bright and dominant future.
Gen Brown, she said, "brings a wealth of joint leadership experiences and global perspectives to his new role as 22nd chief of staff of the Air Force. Embodying the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do, General Brown has the right character, experience, and perspective to lead the United States Air Force".
Like Gen Goldfein and those who came before, Gen Brown as Chief of Staff is responsible for ensuring the Air Force is trained, ready and equipped to accomplish any mission at any time. Yet Gen Brown also taking the reins 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 US 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.
In his remarks, Gen Brown said he would work to build on Gen Goldfein’s accomplishments while also adding his own imprint to assure that the Air Force remains the most advanced, professional and lethal in the world.
"I am committed to addressing today’s challenges while preparing for the future so we can better compete, deter, and win. To do so, we must no longer defer, but must accelerate the needed change and tough choices we’ve often discussed. We must develop and empower leaders and provide the quality service and quality of life where our Airmen and families can reach their full potential," Gen Brown said, surrounded by an unmistakable lineage of historic aircraft, including a gleaming chrome-plated P-51 Mustang, a fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II and an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.
Adding a dose of realism, Gen Brown said, "No doubt there are challenges ahead that will be difficult, but not impossible. I look forward to working with the Joint Chiefs, providing our best military advice to address challenges the joint force faces today and will face in the future."
As he noted in March when he was nominated to be chief of staff, Gen Brown said again that he will continue to be guided by what he described as his “four tenets” of leadership – execute at a high standard; be disciplined in execution; pay attention to the details; and have fun.