Texas Tech University

Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr. Confirmed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Glenys Young

September 20, 2023

The Texas Tech alumnus earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1984.

Following a monthslong delay, the U.S. Senate today (Sept. 20) confirmed the nomination of Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He will succeed Army Gen. Mark Milley, whose term expires Sept. 30.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking and most senior military officer in the U.S, Armed Forces and the principal military adviser to the president, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the secretary of defense.

Brown has served as the chief of the U.S. Air Force since 2020, the same year he was named one of TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People. As head of the Air Force, he became the first Black chief of a military service branch and the first Black officer on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Army Gen. Colin Powell served as its chairman from 1989 to 1993. 

“I've had several opportunities where I was the ‘first African American to be …,'” he said in a 2020 interview with Texas Tech. “No different than my current position, each of these opportunities includes added pressure to perform, so I'm not the ‘first and last African American' or member of a diverse background to have this opportunity, and to prove my selection was due to the content of my character and my résumé of experience, not due to any perceived reduction in standards to ensure diversity. 

“Like all of our military members, I've always simply wanted a fair shot to compete for an opportunity. Like so many of our airmen, I have had some tough assignments or tough situations that caused me further reflection. Despite the challenges, I have a longstanding conviction that every day is a good day, just some days are better than others.”

Brown was commissioned in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Texas Tech, where he earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He was named a distinguished alumnus of the university in 2012.

He has served in a variety of positions at the squadron and wing levels, including an assignment to the U.S. Air Force Weapons School as an F-16 Fighting Falcon Instructor. He previously served as aide-de-camp to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, director of the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff Executive Action Group and deputy director of the Operations Directorate within the U.S. Central Command. He also served as a National Defense Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses.

Brown has commanded a fighter squadron, the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, two fighter wings and U.S. Air Forces Central Command. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command. Brown is a command pilot with more than 2,900 flying hours, including 130 combat hours.

Brown has been awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. 

Read more about Brown and his journey in Issue 1 of Evermore, Texas Tech's university magazine.