After 246 years, the U.S. Marines have their first black 4-star general, Michael Langley.
Langley, a 37-year veteran of the Corps, was nominated to fill the slot of retiring Gen. Stephen Townsend, heading up the 6,000 troops of the Africa Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany, the Washington Post reported in July.
He was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday and sworn into his new post during a ceremony at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, CNN reported.
"[I am] "humbled and honored for the opportunity to take on the stewardship of command of AFRICOM," CNN reported Langley saying during the ceremony. "But the milestone and what it means to the Corps is quite essential. Not just because the mark in history, but what it will affect going forward, especially for those younger across society that want to aspire and look at the Marine Corps as an opportunity."
According to the Marines, Langley is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and commissioning as an officer in 1985.
His biography said that he served as a leader "at every level" during his career, including deployments to Japan and Afghanistan.
Most recently, he served as a Lt. Gen. commanding U.S. Marine Forces Command and Forces Northern Command, and commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic.
The other branches of the service have all promoted black individuals to their highest respective positions, starting with the Air Force promoting Daniel "Chappie" James to general in 1975, according to blackpast.org.
Langley will join three other black 4-star Navy admirals, and eight 4-star Army generals including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, among others.
According to a Washington Post profile of Langley, his command is used primarily to train African military units and help build their capacities.
His command will also oversee hundreds of Special Operations troops President Joe Biden is deploying this year to Somalia, after former President Donald Trump withdrew them during his administration.
Michael O'Hanlon, a Brookings Institute senior fellow told the Post that the African command is facing "unique challenges," by facing different threats such as climate change, population growth, and political instability, according to the Post article.
"Where can you meaningfully make a difference without putting in tons of forces or incurring liabilities?" O'Hanlon wondered in the article.
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