US Senate confirms Biden pick as top US military officer

Charles Brown to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen Charles Brown has been confirmed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Most of the US Senate on Wednesday backed US Air Force chief Gen Charles Brown's appointment as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Legislators moved to confirm some of the top senior officers whose promotions had been stalled by a Republican senator.

The Senate backed President Joe Biden's nomination of Mr Brown to the position by 83 to 11.

Mr Brown is a former fighter pilot who brings command experience in the Pacific to the position at a time of rising tension with China.

He will be only the second black chairman of the Joint Chiefs after Colin Powell two decades ago.

The Senate voted on Mr Brown and two other top military officers as majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, used a procedural manoeuvre to sidestep a blockade by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville.

Mr Tuberville began blocking confirmations to senior Pentagon posts in March to protest against a Defence Department policy enacted last year that provides paid leave and reimburses costs for service members who travel to get an abortion.

Mr Brown and other military officials had said Mr Tuberville blocking hundreds of military promotions could have a far-reaching effect across the armed forces, harming national security.

Mr Biden's nomination of Mr Brown, which was announced in May, followed his appointment of Lloyd Austin as the first black US Secretary of Defence, the top civilian position at the Pentagon.

Mr Brown's confirmation means black Americans hold the top two positions at the Pentagon for the first time, a major milestone for an institution that is diverse in its lower ranks but largely white and male at the top.

Mr Schumer also cleared the way for Senate votes on Mr Biden's nomination of Gen Randy George to become Chief of Staff of the Army, and Gen Eric Smith to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps.

Mr Schumer's procedural motion did not address hundreds of other military promotions still being delayed by Mr Tuberville's action.

The Senate's approval of military promotions is usually smooth.

Mr Tuberville's hold cannot prevent the Democratic-majority Senate from voting on any promotion, but it can drastically slow the process.

Updated: September 21, 2023, 12:54 AM