Calling him the “wrong man for the job,” a group of conservative leaders strongly opposes the president’s nomination of Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the nation’s highest-ranking military officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In an open letter to senators, the 30 leaders of conservative groups urge the lawmakers to vote against President Joe Biden’s selection, citing Brown’s heavy focus on diversity issues as well as what they call his poor performance in the Air Force’s top job.
“Of all the major service branches, the Air Force has leaned the hardest into progressive ideological indoctrination over readiness and merit,” their letter says. “Gen. Brown has stated openly that he ‘purposely built’ his office with ‘diversity’ as the core priority, appearing to discriminate against candidates for positions in the Air Force based on their race, religion, and biological sex.”
Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts is among those who signed the letter. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
Other signers include Kenneth Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state who is chairman of the Conservative Action Project; former U.S. Rep. Allen West, a retired Army colonel who is executive director of the American Constitutional Rights Union; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Cleta Mitchell, senior legal fellow at the Conservative Partnership Institute; and Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center.
Their letter goes on to note that Brown has pushed gender politics:
Moreover, under Gen. Brown’s leadership, Air Force Academy cadets were told that they may no longer refer to their parents as ‘mom and dad’ because it was ‘divisive language.’ Gen. Brown also authorized use of Air Force resources to host LGBT pride events, including drag shows for minors.
Also signing the letter was Tom Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation, a government watchdog group that conducted much of the research into Brown’s background. The foundation also asked the Office of the Air Force Inspector General to investigate Brown’s focus on race in hiring decisions.
Brown defended his focus on diversity during his confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I think for my own career and all of our members, all they want is a fair opportunity to perform,” Brown told senators. “By providing that fair opportunity, they do not want to be advantaged, or disadvantaged, or discounted based on their background. They want to have the opportunity, but they’ve got to be qualified. I will tell you from my own career, when I came in, I didn’t want to be the best African-American F-16 pilot. I wanted to be the best F-16 pilot.”
Brown, born in 1962, joined the Air Force in 1984. Nicknamed “CQ,” he has piloted an F-16 and trained others to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon. He has more than 3,000 flying hours, including 130 combat hours, according to the Air Force.
If confirmed, Brown would replace Army Gen. Mark Milley, who has chaired the Joint Chiefs since October 2019.
The conservative leaders’ letter doesn’t focus only on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI. It argues that the politicization of the military has had real consequences in readiness for battle.
“Unsurprisingly, an over-emphasis on ideological indoctrination and racial quotas has led to a decline in Air Force performance,” the letter says.
“As seen in The Heritage Foundation’s 2023 Index of U.S. Military Strength, the Air Force is the weakest of all branches of the U.S. military and was downgraded in 2023 from its previous score of ‘weak’ to ‘very weak’ due to ‘the deepening of previously assessed issues related to aging aircraft and very poor pilot training and retention’ and noted that ‘the USAF would struggle greatly against a peer competitor,’” the letter continues.
It goes on to say:
Despite promises by Gen. Brown to make Air Force flight proficiency and safety standards a priority, these standards have decreased. The readiness of all variants of F-35 aircraft has cratered below 60%, dropping by 11 percentage points in 2022 alone.
Additionally, the entire B-2 bomber fleet was grounded from December 2022-May 2023, incapacitating a major component of the Nuclear Triad, after two serious safety incidents within 15 months. Only one such incident had occurred in the 30 years prior to Gen. Brown’s command.
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