The chair joint chiefs of staff is the highest-ranking military position in the United States. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is the principal military adviser to the commander in chief. The president nominates a member of the military services to serve as chairman, and the chairman is confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. The chairman is the head of the Joint Staff, a group of officers from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard who provide the secretary of defense with unified strategic direction, operations, integration, and coordination for the combatant land, sea, air, and space forces.
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the vice chairman are members of the President’s National Security Council. The chairman and the vice chairman are the most senior military officials in the executive branch, and their duties are to advise the commander in chief of the Armed Forces on a wide variety of national security issues.
Historically, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has been a four-star general or admiral. The chairman of the joint chiefs of service is appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, and he or she holds office for a four-year term. A chairman may be reappointed twice, but no more than two consecutive terms.
In his announcement of Brown, the president praised him as “a proud butt-kicking American Airman,” and said he is an operational leader with intimate knowledge of how the U.S. military operates. He added that Brown is someone who “doesn’t play for second place, he plays to win.”
As chairman, Brown would be the highest-ranking military officer in the nation. He is currently the Air Force chief of staff, and if confirmed, he would succeed Gen. Mark Milley as the top military adviser to the president.
If confirmed, Brown would also be the first Black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff since the late Gen. Colin Powell served from 1989 to 1993. Combined with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Brown’s confirmation would mark the first time that African Americans hold the two most senior civilian and military positions at the Pentagon.
As part of their duties, the chair and the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of service must consult with other defense department leaders on national security issues. They must also consult with other government agencies, including the secretary of state and the director of national intelligence. They are also required to hold frequent briefings with their counterparts in the other branches of the armed forces, as well as with their allies and adversaries. They are also required to meet with the secretary of defense, other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the president on a regular basis. In addition, the chairman and the vice chairman are responsible for briefing Congress on defense-related matters. The chairman and the vice chairman of the joint chiefs are paid $150,000 annually for their duties.