US Air Force celebrates 75 years by looking at the future

On the 75th Anniversary of the U.S. Air Force, the service is at one of the most critical junctures in its history.

Seated in a meeting room in hangar number two, at Joint Base Andrews, just outside of D.C., General Charles Q. Brown, the 22nd Chief of Staff, surrounded by aides and photos on the wall of historic Air Force moments, said this is a critical time for the world, the nation and most of all the U.S. Air Force.



“When you think about the geostrategic environment, we’re probably in a
very challenging time compared to where we’ve been over the course of the
past number of decades,” Brown said.

General Charles Q. Brown, marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force at Joint Base Andrews. (WTOP/J.J. Green)

He was referring to challenges posed by nations like Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and others. He suggested that what makes these challenges so important at this point, is their threat to democracy.

“You also think about the aspect of the rules-based international order that came into place after the end of World War II. Current events are starting to challenge that,” said Brown, emphasizing, that the bar has been raised for the U.S. Air Force.

“What we’ve been doing for the past 25 years, when we think of our mission to ‘fly, fight and win; air power anytime, anywhere’ we’ve still got to be able to do that, and do that even better than we’ve done it in the past.

Meeting the challenge, he said, means working even harder to maintain its reputation as the best Air Force in the world.

“As you watch the threats evolve and the challenges evolve, we cannot rest on our laurels of the past 75 years,” Brown said.

As he sat for an exclusive interview with WTOP, Joint Base Andrews, was buzzing with flybys of the futuristic B2 bomber, throwback single seat stunt aircraft, and many other U.S. Air Force flying machines during the Joint Base Andrews 2022 Air & Space Expo.

General Charles Q. Brown sat down with WTOP for an exclusive interview. (WTOP/J.J. Green)

Enthusiastic crowds, numbering in the thousands, toured aircraft, talked to the members of the U.S. military. Many were eager to see what the U.S. Air Force has in store for the future.

Earlier in the day, after kicking off the event, Brown moved effortlessly through a diverse crowd of thousands of men, women and children, letting it be known, that they are the future.

“This air show is an opportunity to show to the public what our Air Force does and also to display our airmen.”

Being the first Black Air Force Chief, and from a family line of military first achievers, including his father and grandfather, Brown said a part of his goal is to make sure his achievement opens the door for other people of all races, ethnicities and identities.

That work started with an internal assessment, when he assumed command in August of 2020.

“We did some reviews and those reviews looked at racial disparity, first with African Americans, then we broadened it to other racial and ethnic groups and we also looked at gender.”

The combination of those reviews, he said, “gave us an opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves.”

That look revealed that the Air Force needs to look even deeper at the issues of race and gender to learn how they can be fairer and more diverse.

As chair of a diversity and inclusion council that meets every month, Brown said they look at the data, “not to pat ourselves on the back, but to look at hard issues and how we can make some changes.”

He said his diversity objectives are led by three elements.

“The things we do have to be meaningful, sustainable, and they have to enduring, around after I leave.”

Looking out across the waves of people that flocked to the air show, the wonder in the eyes of small children as they roamed the flight line, suggested that Brown and the Air Force are on the right track.

J.J. Green

JJ Green is WTOP's National Security Correspondent. He reports daily on security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments, and provides regular on-air and online analysis. He is also the host of two podcasts: Target USA and Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America.

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