Among the significant challenges he faced were Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the presidential election, and widespread protests against police brutality.
One of the defining aspects of Milley’s leadership was his perceived role in safeguarding the country’s democratic institutions during the turbulent transition of power. His supporters credited him with preventing potential abuses by President Trump. However, this stance also made him a target of fierce criticism from the former president and his loyalists.
Milley’s departure coincides with a broader debate surrounding the US military’s direction, particularly concerning its leadership and policies. Conservative politicians and pundits have been vocally critical of what they perceive as the imposition of “woke” ideologies within the armed forces, leading to increased tensions and scrutiny.
Taking the reins from General Milley is General CQ Brown, who makes history as the second Black officer to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, following in the footsteps of Colin Powell. His appointment comes at a time when the Department of Defense is headed by Lloyd Austin, the nation’s first Black secretary of defense.
General Brown’s military career spans several decades, dating back to his commissioning as a US Air Force officer in 1984. He is a highly experienced pilot, accumulating over 3,000 flight hours, including 130 in combat.
His leadership roles have included commanding a fighter squadron and two fighter wings, as well as overseeing US air forces under both the Central Command and Indo-Pacific Command. Additionally, he served as the chief of staff of the Air Force.
General Brown’s nomination faced delays due to a dispute over Pentagon policies related to reproductive health care for troops stationed in areas with limited access. A lone Republican senator’s opposition to these policies resulted in the holdup of over 300 senior military nominees, including Brown.
His confirmation eventually came through an individual vote on his nomination, highlighting the broader challenges and controversies surrounding the military’s policies and appointments.
In the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minnesota, General Brown recorded a deeply personal video in which he shared his experiences with discrimination within the American military.
He revealed the pressure he felt to excel and the need to work twice as hard to defy expectations linked to his race. As General Brown assumes his new role, he faces the complex task of leading the US military through a period of continued challenges and transformation, both internally and on the global stage.