Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 Tuesday.
Former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson wrote for Time about Brown’s historical significance as the first Black chief of staff to command a military service in American history, as well as his skill and experience as a leader in the Air Force.
“He is a respected warfighter who will serve America well,” Wilson wrote. “CQ has opened doors throughout his career and made sure that they have stayed open for those who follow.”
Wilson noted that, as he was sworn in as the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff Aug. 6, Brown paid tribute to his predecessors in uniform who did not receive the chance to reach their full career potential due to the color of their skin. Those trailblazers, Brown said, broke the barriers that made it possible for him to become the first Black chief of staff.
“The smiles on the faces of the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-Black unit of fighter pilots in World War II, were matched only by those of the 19-year-olds who now know the sky’s not the limit in today’s Air Force,” Wilson wrote.
Wilson also highlighted Brown’s role leading the air war against the Islamic State, which paved the way for the destruction of the group’s caliphate. She also noted that Brown’s experience as commander of Pacific Air Forces makes him “highly qualified to deter China and reassure allies in the Indo-Pacific” region.
“Meeting the challenges of this time will require visionary leadership," Wilson said. "CQ has become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through competence and character. It’s a model worth following.”
Brown was dubbed one of the list’s “Titans," alongside people such as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, NBA star Dwyane Wade, filmmaker Tyler Perry and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
Other influential people on Time’s list include President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, actor Michael B. Jordan, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.