Gen. "CQ" Brown was nominated on Thursday by President Joe Biden to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's most senior ranking military officer.
In a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, Biden said it was his honor to nominate Charles Quinton Brown Jr. to succeed Gen. Mark Milley.
"Gen. Brown is a warrior, descended from a proud line of warriors," Biden said.
"While Gen. Brown is a proud, butt-kicking American airman, first and always he's also been an operational leader of the Joint Force," Biden added. "He gained respect across every service, from those who have seen him in action and have come to depend on his judgment."
Brown, if confirmed, would become the second Black Joint Chiefs chairman three decades after Army Gen. Colin Powell. For the first time in history, the Pentagon's top two leaders, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Joint Chiefs chairman, would be Black men.
An Air Force F-16 fighter pilot who became an officer after completing his undergraduate degree in engineering in 1984, Brown rose through the ranks to become a general in 2009. He held senior leadership roles in the Middle East beginning in 2015 and in 2018 took command of Pacific Air Forces, America's presence in the skies of the Indo-Pacific.
After being nominated by then-President Donald Trump in 2020, the Senate confirmed Brown 98-0 to be chief of staff of the Air Force.
That year, Brown also made headlines when he spoke out about racism in the military following George Floyd's murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.
"I'm thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd," he said in a highly personal video message. "I'm thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality."
His nomination on Thursday fell on the third anniversary of Floyd's death.
Biden highlighted Brown's message, saying he'll be able to rely on Brown as a "thoughtful, deliberate leader who is unafraid to speak his mind."
"That's the leader that all Americans met three years ago when Gen. Brown gave an unflinching video testimonial sharing his own experience of racism and his deep love of our country, to which he's dedicated his entire adult life," Biden said. "It took real backbone and struck a chord not only with our military members, but with Americans all across the country."
Heather Wilson, a former congresswoman and secretary of the Air Force who served with Brown, told ABC News that she "was really proud of" Brown for posting that message three years ago.
"He had a sense of what airmen needed to hear from him. And as a leader, he was in a unique position to stand up and say so," she said.
As Biden's senior adviser in uniform, Brown would be called to contend with a growing Chinese military presence where he once led American airmen, the Indo-Pacific.
Wilson said his experience in the region makes him a good fit for the moment.
"There is no more important adversary or potential adversary now than China," she said. "And he has that experience. I think even more than just understanding the strategic landscape of the Pacific, he has started to build relationships with our allies. And one of the things that America has that's an advantage is that we have allies. China generally does not. Their neighbors are afraid of them."
Milley, whose tenure comes to a mandated end in September, offered praise for Brown hours ahead of Thursday's ceremony, calling him a "great officer" who has "all the knowledge, skills, attributes to do this job."
"And he has the appropriate demeanor, and he's got a great chemistry with, obviously, with the president, [secretary of Defense] and others," Milley continued. "So CQ is absolutely superb and I am looking forward to a speedy confirmation."
Secretary Austin said Thursday that Brown is "an incredibly capable and professional officer, and what he brings to the table -- to any table -- is that professionalism, that deep experience in war-fighting and I have personal knowledge of that."
Joining ABC's "GMA3" last February, Brown told ABC News, "You can only aspire to be what you can see. And hopefully by me being in this position, I'll inspire many young people to open doors for not just in the military, but just really across the country, to be in a great position to -- just like this."
Brown's "style is different," Wilson said. "But that's OK … Different secretaries of defense and different presidents need different things."
"One of the things that CQ does well is listen, and this is in a town where there's a lot more people who want to talk than listen, and who listens and understands and synthesizes problems," Wilson said. "He asks good questions and then is able to crystallize what the big issues are."
What lies ahead, however, will be complicated by a blockade on military nominations by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who has had a monthslong hold on all military generals two stars and above out of objection to a Department of Defense policy that allows paid time off and paid travel for some military members seeking abortions in states that currently prohibit them.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could force a vote on Brown's nomination on the Senate floor, going around Tuberville through a cumbersome procedural process, but that would break with the status quo for military nominations, which generally enjoy unanimous support to get to a final floor vote.
ABC News' Ben Gittleson, Allison Pecorin and Matthew Seyler contributed to this report.