World-renowned Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael Langely could become the first Black four-star general in the Marines’ 246-year history.
Langely, who has been serving with the U.S. Marines for more than 35 years, was recently nominated to lead all U.S. military forces in Africa as the chief of the U.S. Africa Command. The former Regional Support Commander will face a confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Committee on Thursday.
In November 2021, the Shreveport, Louisiana native was appointed to Commanding General of the Fleet Marine Force and the Marine Forces Northern Command. According to Stars and Stripes, last year, Langley assumed command of the U.S. Marin Forces in Europe and Africa after his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Stephen Neary “was removed amid allegations of using a racial slur for African Americans in front of troops.”
Langley’s nomination is well deserved. Throughout his career, the decorated marine has held positions at every level from the platoon to regiment, including in Battery K, 5th Battalion, and the Operations WILDFIRE team. He’s also held posts in Afghanistan, Japan, and Europe. As of last year, Langley was one of only six Black generals with the Marines.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington, Langley was commissioned in 1985. The troop obtained his formal military education with the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School and College of Naval Command and Staff. He holds multiple advanced degrees, including a Master’s in National Security Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
According to the Washington Post, Lt. General Michael Langley comes from a military background. His father was a noncommissioned officer in the Air Force. The star spent a large part of his childhood growing up on air force bases, watching his dad climb the ranks up until he retired as a master sergeant in the early 1970s.
His family moved to the west side of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1972. At the time, The Langleys were the only Black family living in the area and often faced discrimination.
“We were taking it from all sides. The Blacks didn’t like us because we lived out in a white neighborhood. And the whites considered us different and wondered why we were there,” he told Stars and Stripes during an interview. While unfortunate, Langley said the experiences taught him the importance of leadership and resiliency.
“Yes, we had challenges at an early age, and I think that prepared me for leadership of all Marines, regardless of color, regardless of creed, religion, or orientation. That experience at a young age prepared me to be a platoon commander years after that.”
Challenging racism in the military
The star’s historic appointment comes as the Marine and Military corps struggle to combat racism in the force. Over the last year, there have been multiple complaints of racial discrimination across both branches. While Black marines make up a large majority of the force, generals in command across the Airforce, Army, and Marine Corps are more than 80 percent white, according to research by the Council on Foreign Relations.
In a profile last year, Langley claimed the military was trying its best to deal with issues of racial discrimination. Despite some of the negative stories, the soon-to-be general said his experience with the Marines has been “positive” overall.
“As far as adversity, it came in moments. They were always learning experiences to me. But they were few and far between,” he added, according to NPR.
As a commander, Langley said he tries to foster and safe environment for his staff by allowing his team to address their concerns if they ever encounter bias.