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Biden Joint Chiefs chairman nominee pressed on transgenderism in military amid recruiting challenges

The Biden administration’s pick to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says if "you're being inclusive, you also don't want to make other individuals uncomfortable."

The Biden administration nominee to replace outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the military shouldn't make recruits feel "uncomfortable" in its push to be inclusive. 

Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. made the remark after Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota spoke about how "a young woman in the South Dakota National Guard experienced a situation at basic training where she was sleeping in open bays and showering with biological males who had not had gender reassignment surgery but were documented as females because they had begun the drug therapy process." 

"This 18-year-old girl was uncomfortable with her situation but had limited options on how to deal with it. If she raised her hand, she feared she'd be targeted for retaliation," Rounds said, asking Brown, "If confirmed as the chairman, how do you propose to handle situations like this, which I truly believe may be impacting recruitment and morale by placing a disproportionate emphasis on gender-related ideology?"

"Senator, one of the things I've thought about in throughout my career – as you're being inclusive, you also don't want to make other individuals uncomfortable," Brown responded. "And so... as we look at our policies and approaches and get feedback like this, we have to take a look to see if we can improve on how we approach situations like this. And as I've done as a service chief, as I've done throughout my career, if confirmed, I will continue to do so." 

WHO IS AIR FORCE GEN. CHARLES Q. BROWN JR? 

Brown appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the U.S. military continues to face an uphill battle to attract new recruits – a concern repeatedly brought up by senators during lines of questioning. 

"You know, one of the key areas I do think about is ensuring that young people and their influencers understand the opportunity to serve and the great opportunities provided by serving in the military," Brown said at one point about the issue. 

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"I really believe that young people only aspire to be what they see or know about and it's hard for them to, you know, be part of an organization or aspire to go down a career path if they don't fully understand or appreciate it," he continued. "And so we have a responsibility to reconnect with the nation, to talk about the opportunities, and for all of us that are interested in national defense and our security, how we share the stories of what inspired us to join." 

When speaking about diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by the military, Brown said all service members want "is a fair opportunity to perform." 

"And by providing that fair opportunity, they do not want to be advantaged or disadvantaged or discounted based on their background. They want to have the opportunity, but they have got to be qualified," he added. "And I'll just tell you from my own career, when I came in and flying F-16s, I didn't want to be the best African American F-16 pilot. I want to be the best F-16 pilot." 

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