By Meaghan MacDougall
Lt. Gen. Michael Langley is on his way towards the biggest achievement of his military career. Langley is set to become the first Black four-star general of the United States Marine Corps, one of the branch’s highest rankings. On Thursday, July 21, 2022, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation meeting for Langley, and if he is confirmed by the Senate, he will hold the honor of becoming the first Black four-star general of the Marine Corps.

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Who Is Michael Langley?

Michael Langley has served in the United States Marine Corps for 35 years. According to his Marine Corps bio, Langley is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in the year 1985. He was commissioned as an officer that same year. Langley has also been through formal military education, including the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and the College of Naval Command and Staff. He now holds many advanced degrees, including a Masters in National Security Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Langley has commanded at every level, from platoon to regiment, and on November 3, 2021, he took on the duties of Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic and Commander, Marine Forces Command, and Marine Forces Northern Command. Langley’s father is also a former noncommissioned officer in the Air Force. In June 2022, Michael Langley was nominated by President Joe Biden to become the commander of U.S. Africa Command, which is the combat command responsible for U.S. military operations in Africa. During his hearing on Thursday, July 21, 2022, Langley stated, “It is a great honor to be the president’s nominee to lead U.S. AFRICOM. I am grateful to trust the confidence extended by him, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commandment of the Marine Corps.”

How Many Black Four-Star Generals Are There?

In the United States Marine Corps’s 246 years of history, there have been 73 men that have achieved the four-star ranking, and all of them were white men. If Michael Langley is approved by the Senate, he will be the first of the Marine Corps Black four-star generals. In 2021, Stars and Stripes reported that Langley was one of six Black generals within the United States Marine Corps. As military members reach higher ranks, like generals in the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army, about 80% of military leaders are white. With there being an issue with diversity within the higher ranks in the military, Langley is taking a step into being the change for future African American military leaders. In his opening remarks, committee chairman Jack Reed stated that he believes Langley will be taking this new role during a “critical time,” as there is a lot of work that needs to be done, all while making sure to maintain the legacy of AFRICOM. In the conclusion of his statement made at the hearing, Langley said, “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 will be based in Stuttgart, Germany, if he is confirmed as a four-star general and will command around 6,000 U.S. troops in Africa. If the Senate confirms that Michael Langley will become a four-star general of the Marine Corps, he will be a service member who will go down as one of the famous African American military members who has made military history, a well-deserved title.

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Image: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robin Lewis




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