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Senate Confirms 3 Defense Leaders

The Senate has confirmed the appointment of three military leaders to positions within the Defense Department. 

Last night, the Senate voted to confirm Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Today, the Senate voted to confirm Gen. Randy A. George as Army chief of staff and Gen. Eric M. Smith as Marine Corps commandant.

A man in military uniform, looking to his left, smiles.
Charles Q. Brown, Jr.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., visiting U.S. Naval War College, in April.
Photo By: Kristopher Burris, Navy
VIRIN: 230404-N-YG388-0008

"I want to congratulate Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. on his confirmation as our nation's next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said following last night's confirmation vote. "He will be a tremendous leader of our joint force, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity." 

Since August 2020, Brown had served as Air Force chief of staff. In his new role, he will replace outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, who retires at the end of this month. Brown will be sworn in later this month. 

Brown began his service as a pilot. He has served as both an instructor and commandant at the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. He was also the commander of the 8th Fighter Wing, dubbed the Wolf Pack, in Kunsan, South Korea. 

Brown's nomination as the new chairman was announced in May. At the time, Austin voiced his approval of the choice when he said Brown "has developed the expertise, the vision and the warfighting acumen to help the president and senior DOD [Defense Department] leaders navigate today's toughest national security challenges. In his tenure leading the U.S. Air Force, he has been a model of strategic clarity and a powerful force for progress." 

Austin also offered congratulations to George and Smith following their confirmations.

"I want to congratulate Gen. Randy A. George and Gen. Eric M. Smith on their confirmation as our nation's next chief of staff of the Army and commandant of the Marine Corps, respectively," Austin said. "They will each be incredible leaders of their service and will work to strengthen and modernize our military for the challenges ahead."

Two men sit next to each other outdoors and talk.
Opening Ceremony
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Randy A. George, left, speaks with Medal of Honor recipient Melvin Morris during the opening ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans “Welcome Home” celebration at the JFK Hockey Fields on the National Mall in Washington, May 11, 2023. Vietnam veterans and their families were honored during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Photo By: Henry Villarama, Army
VIRIN: 230511-A-AR102-2007

During testimony in July, George said preparing for future conflicts would be among his top priorities as chief of staff of the Army. 

"My No. 1 focus will be on warfighting, so that our Army is always ready to respond when our nation calls," George said. "Second, I will work to ensure that we are continually improving to stay ahead of our potential adversaries. As the war in Ukraine has shown us, we are in a rapidly changing strategic environment. We can't afford not to evolve."

Smith took over as acting commandant of the Marine Corps in July, following the departure of outgoing Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger. Smith had served as deputy commandant for combat development and integration at Marine Corps headquarters and as commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

A man in a military uniform shakes the hand of another man in a military uniform.
Gen. Eric M. Smith
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith greets Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 12, 2023. During the visit, Smith met with Marines and sailors to answer questions about improving the quality of life for on-base personnel. The Senate today confirmed Smith’s nomination for Marine Corps commandant.
Photo By: Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David Getz
VIRIN: 230912-M-RY694-1142

Over the past several months, a hold in the Senate has prevented lawmakers from using traditional means to confirm military personnel who have been nominated to leadership positions in the Defense Department. The most recent confirmation votes used an alternative voting method to confirm those leaders.

The current Senate hold has affected more than 300 general and flag-officer nominations and continues to affect the smooth transition of leadership within the department, defense leaders have said. 

"It is well past time to confirm the over 300 other military nominees," Austin said. "The brave men and women of the U.S. military deserve to be led by highly qualified general and flag officers at this critical moment for our national security. And their families, who also sacrifice so much every day on our behalf, deserve certainty and our nation's unwavering support. I will continue to personally engage with members of Congress in both parties until all of these well-qualified, apolitical officers are confirmed."

Following the confirmation vote, George was sworn in by Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth, who lauded him for his service.

"Gen. George is a battle-tested soldier and seasoned leader who has been a critically important champion for the Army as vice chief of staff and as acting chief," said Wormuth. "Having first entered the force as an enlisted soldier 42 years ago, he understands the importance of service and leadership at every echelon. I deeply value the partnership we have already built and look forward to working with him to strengthen and transform the Army’s warfighting capabilities and sustain our all-volunteer force." 

It is expected Smith will be sworn in as Marine Corps commandant in the coming days.

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