US general who led anti-ISIS air war set to become Pentagon's top officer

Gen Charles Brown of the US Air Force has experience in handling aid for Ukraine and relations with China

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Gen Charles Brown, who has been nominated as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. AP
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The US Air Force general who once led the air war against ISIS is set to become the Pentagon's top officer.

Gen Charles Brown, 60, commanded air operations against ISIS in 2015 as a US-led coalition of dozens of countries sought to push the extremists from their self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

President Joe Biden formally nominated Gen Brown as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a White House ceremony on Thursday, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“Gen Brown is a warfighter who's commanded in Europe, the Middle East and the Indo Pacific,” Mr Biden said during his remarks.

“He has an unmatched first-hand knowledge of our operational theatres, and a strategic vision to understand how they all work together to ensure the security for the American people.”

If confirmed, Gen Brown, who currently serves as the Air Force's Chief of Staff, would replace general Gen Mark Milley, who oversaw the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan under Mr Biden.

Gen Milley also served under Donald Trump and clashed with the former president over his handling of racial justice demonstrations outside the White House in 2020. Gen Milley's term ends in October.

Assuming Gen Brown is confirmed by the Senate, he would become only the second black person to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after Colin Powell, who served from 1989 to 1993.

The White House has said that Gen Brown has been playing a significant role in providing military aid to Ukraine, and has experience in navigating relations with China.

“No matter how complicated the mission, from helping build and lead the coalition now 80 nations strong to countering ISIS threats in the Middle East to positioning our air force for the future in the Indo-Pacific, Gen Brown has built a reputation across the force as an unflappable and highly effective leader,” Mr Biden said.

The air war against ISIS from 2014 to 2019 was critical in defeating the terrorist group.

Updated: May 25, 2023, 6:38 PM