On Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Lt. Gen. Michael Langley, who is nominated to become the nation’s first Black Marine four-star general.

Langley was nominated by President Biden in June to become the commander of U.S. Africa Command ― the combatant command responsible for American military operations in Africa.

“It is a great honor to be the president’s nominee to lead U.S. AFRICOM,” Langley said during his hearing. “I am grateful to the trust and confidence extended by him, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.”

Langley, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and has served in the Marine Corps since 1985, according to his Marine Corps bio.

It also noted he has multiple advanced degrees including a master’s in national security strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and a master’s in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. During his confirmation he was joined by his family, including his father, retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Willie C. Langley.

After serving in several leadership roles during his 37 years in both the Pentagon and Marine Corps, and deployments to both Japan and Afghanistan, Langley assumed his current duties as the chief of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command in November 2021, according to his Marine Corps bio.

A predecessor of his was removed from a position as the leader of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa after allegedly using racial slurs in the presence of other Marines.

Langley is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, marking a major step for diversity in the Marine Corps’ 246-year history. More than 70 White men have risen to the Marines’ highest ranks in that same time, according to the Washington Post.

The move to install Langley as the leader of U.S. service members in Africa also comes as American troops are once again stationed in Somalia and striking against al-Shabab.

Committee chairman Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, shared in his opening remarks that he thinks Langley would be taking up this new role at a “critical time,” citing security situations in both East and West Africa as a need to expedite his confirmation ahead of the upcoming August recess.

The committee’s lead Republican, James Inhofe R-Oklahoma, agreed with the sentiment in his opening statement before directly addressing Langley.

“So, General Langley, once you assume your role, I want you to keep in mind the legacy of AFRICOM, what it is and how far we’ve come and how much more work needs to be done,” Inhofe said.

If confirmed, Langley will be based in Stuttgart, Germany, commanding roughly 6,000 U.S. troops in Africa, including about 1,300 in West Africa and about 3,500 in Djibouti, as reported by the Washington Post.

The committee also spoke during the hearing to Lt. Gen. Bryan Fenton, who is nominated to become the next commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

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