(CNN) — After more than 35 years in the US Marine Corps., Lt. Gen. Michael Langley is set to be the first Black general to achieve one of the branch’s highest rankings.
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday held a confirmation hearing for Langley, who’s nominated to be the Commander of US Africa Command, which oversees the nation’s military presence in Africa. If the Senate confirms him, he will be the Marines’ first Black four-star general. In the Marines’ 246-year history, 73 White men have reached the four-star ranking.
“It is a great honor to be the President’s nominee to lead US AFRICOM,” Langley said at Thursday’s confirmation hearing. “I’m grateful to the trust and confidence extended by him.”
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Langley graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and has been in service with the Marine Corps since 1985. The son of a US Air force veteran who served for 25 years, Langley has commanded at every level and served in multiple continents, being deployed to countries like Japan and Afghanistan over the course of his career.
Langley has multiple advanced degrees, including a Masters in National Security Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College as well as a Masters in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College.
Last year, Stars and Stripes reported that Langley was one of only six Black generals in the Marines.
Black service members have engaged in every American conflict dating back to the American Revolution in the 18th century, with each branch having different policies surrounding racial segregation until President Harry Truman officially desegregated the military in 1948.
In connection with long-standing racial disparities and diversity issues in the military, some military officials have sought to address racial bias throughout the armed forces.
A 2020 CNN review of data provided by the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs revealed the stark reality that Black service members are less likely to become officers and, as a result, are more likely to be seriously injured during service relative to their White colleagues.
In his opening statements, Langley spoke to the challenging international security environment and the systemic effects of current global tensions in Africa as well as challenges specifically facing the continent. He said he hopes the command continues to address issues of strategic competition and extremism in Africa while integrating diplomatic efforts.
“I am enthusiastic to engage across the whole government to faithfully execute the policies and orders of the President and the Secretary of Defense,” Langley said in the conclusion of his opening statements during the hearing.
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