Michael E. Langley confirmed as the Navy’s first black four-star general

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Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley will become the first black four-star general in the Marines’ 246-year history, after the Senate confirmed his promotion this week, the Marine Corps announced Tuesday.

Langley will officially achieve his new rank in a ceremony in DC this weekend, the Marines said. He will then become the new head of US Africa Command at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. There he will oversee approximately 6,000 troops. President Biden nominated him in June.

During his confirmation hearing last month, Langley thanked his father – who had served in the Air Force for 25 years – as well as his stepmother and two sisters. “As many candidates have said in their testimony before me, military families are the foundation upon which our joint force readiness rests,” he said. “Without their support, I wouldn’t be here today.”

The Marine Corps has had a handful of black three-star generals, including Langley himself, who was promoted to that rank last year. Other African Americans have also earned four-star ranks in other branches, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a former Army general.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Langley served for 37 years, with stints in Japan, Afghanistan and Somalia. Commissioned as a Marine Artillery Officer in 1985, he has commanded at all levels – from platoons, which can number a few dozen members, to regiments, which can number several thousand soldiers. His intellectual and physical prowess, combined with his talents as a mediator, have impressed his superiors over the years.

Retired Gen. Robert Neller, former commanding officer of the Marines from 2015 to 2019, summed up Langley’s reputation in the Marines in an interview with The Washington Post before his confirmation: “He does stuff, and people tend to like it. work for him.

At his new duty station, Langley will face both conventional and unconventional military challenges.

In Africa, the US military plays a supporting role, helping African countries build their own forces and monitoring Russian and Chinese activities. Direct combat is rare. But the resurgence of terrorist groups such as al-Shabab poses a threat to US national security, while US troops have also suffered deadly attacks in recent years in Niger and Kenya.

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Langley will also be responsible for helping African partners address climate change, population growth and political instability.

Langley acknowledged the hybrid nature of his mission during his confirmation hearing, telling senators that “military power alone” would not be enough. “They require an integration of State Department diplomatic efforts, USAID development efforts, and the overall strategies of other allies and partners operating in Africa,” he said.

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