USAF Manpower Nominee Would Skip Rank of Major General if Confirmed

President Joe Biden has nominated Brig. Gen. Caroline M. Miller to be the next deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services. If confirmed, Miller would completely skip the two-star rank and pin on her third star, becoming just the third actively-serving woman in the Air Force to wear three stars.

Though skipping ranks, especially that high up in the chain of command, is extremely rare, it’s not unprecedented.

In 2014, Brig. Gen. Christopher F. Burne skipped major general, becoming a lieutenant general. And in 2010, Brig. Gen. Richard C. Harding did the same thing. Both Burne and Harding became Judge Advocate General of the Air Force.

The Air Force has said that improving diversity and inclusion in all ranks and specialties is one of its top priorities, and the Biden administration has committed to “ensuring that women are represented equally at all levels of the federal government.” But Air Force spokesperson Ann Stefanek said Miller is being fast-tracked simply because she’s the best person for the job.

“She is the most highly qualified officer with a steep understanding of how to care for the service’s most unique asset—its people,” Stefanek said.

As the commander of the 8,000-person 502nd Air Base Wing and of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Miller oversees 49 installation support functions, 266 mission partners, 80,000 full-time personnel, and a facilities and infrastructure portfolio worth $37 billion to ensure the Defense Department’s largest joint base runs smoothly.

Since her commissioning in 1994, she’s held command and staff positions from the base to the Air Staff and Joint levels. She previously was the director of manpower, organization, and resources for the position she was tapped to hold.

If confirmed, she will replace Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, who has held the position since September 2018.

Biden also nominated Lt. Gen. Steven L. Basham to serve as deputy commander of U.S. European Command. Basham is currently the deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa. Lt. Gen. Timothy D. Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, is nominated to be deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command.