Michael E. Langley confirmed as first Black four-star Marine general

Michael E. Langley confirmed as first Black four-star Marine 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 said Tuesday.

Langley will formally attain his new rank at 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 about 6,000 troops. President Biden nominated him in June.

In his confirmation hearing last month, Langley thanked his father — who had served at the Air Force for 25 years — as well as his stepmother and two sisters. “As many nominees have said in testimony before me, military families form the bedrock upon which our Joint Force readiness stands,” he said. “Without their support, I would not be here today.”

Marines set for their first black four-star general

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

A native of Shreveport, La., Langley has served for 37 years, with tours of duty in Japan, Afghanistan and Somalia. He was commissioned as a Marine officer officer in 1985 and has commanded at every level — from platoons, which can have a few dozen members, to regiments, which can have several thousand troops. His intellectual and physical prowess, combined with his mediation skills, has impressed his superiors over the years.

Retired Gen. Robert Neller, the former Marine commandant from 2015 to 2019, summed up Langley’s reputation in the Marines in an interview with The Washington Post before his confirmation: “He gets stuff done, and people tend to like working for him.”

At his new duty station, Langley will come up against conventional and unconventional military challenges.

In Africa, the US military is in a supporting role, helping African countries build up their forces and monitoring Russian and Chinese activities. Direct combat is uncommon. But resurgent terrorist groups such as al-Shabab are national security threats to the United States, while American troops have also suffered fatal attacks in recent years in Kenya and Niger.

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Langley will also be tasked with helping African partners combat climate change, population growth and political instability.

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

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