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Bryan D. Brown
General Bryan D. Brown
Nickname Doug
Born October 20, 1948(1948-10-20) (age 73)
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1967–2007
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held U.S. Special Operations Command
U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Awards See below

Bryan Douglas "Doug" Brown (born October 20, 1948)[1] is a retired four-star United States Army general, who retired after four decades of military service. In his last assignment, he served as the seventh commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), from September 2, 2003, until July 9, 2007. As USSOCOM's commander, he was responsible for all unified special operations forces, both active duty and reserve. Brown joined the United States Army in 1967 as a private in the infantry and after graduating from Special Forces Qualification Course he became a Green Beret. Shortly afterwards he fought in the Vietnam War as part of a Special Forces "A" team. After returning from his combat tour he enrolled in Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1970. After attending Army Aviation School he returned to Vietnam as a UH-1 helicopter pilot. After the Vietnam War he was part of a task force that would go on to later found the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in 1981. During his stint in the 160th SOAR Brown took part in many contingencies in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1983 Brown participated in the invasion of Grenada where his unit became the first aviation unit to use night vision goggles in combat. In the late 1980s he led U.S. forces in Operation Prime Chance in the Persian Gulf amidst the Iran-Iraq War. Shortly thereafter he commanded a battalion within 160th SOAR during Operation Desert Storm; after which he was promoted to Colonel and Commander of the regiment. After leaving 160th SOAR Brown served as the helm of Joint Special Operations Command for two years as a Major General, from 1998-2000. He was promoted to Lieutenant General and assumed command of U.S. Army Special Operations Command where he sought to modernize neglected aspects of Army special operations forces. In 2002 Brown was selected to become the deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and he held the position until 2003 when he was selected to replace Air Force General Charles R. Holland as Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Shortly after becoming the head of USSOCOM, in 2004, he was involved in the aftermath of the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident which culminated in him testifying before the congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2007. Also during his tenure in command of USSOCOM he announced the creation of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in 2006 alongside U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee. In 2007 after four years of leading USSOCOM through the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan Brown's deputy commander, Rear Admiral Eric T. Olson, was nominated to succeed him as the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Early life and family[edit | edit source]

A native of Fort Meade, Maryland,[2] Brown grew up in a military family. His father Arnett Brown was a member of the 89th Infantry Division during World War II, who would eventually become a Command Sergeant Major and serve in the Vietnam War. His mother was Mary Lou Brown.[3] Brown played baseball and basketball in high school, and eventually made it onto a semi-pro baseball team in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

In a 2009 interview with The Year in Special Operations, he commented on his short-lived semi-pro baseball career, saying, "I played three games with them and found that life couldn’t be sustained on $3 per game". Losing interest in college, and with his father in Vietnam, he walked into a recruiting office and joined the Army as an infantryman.[4]

He is married to Penelope "Penny" Brown (née Whightsil), a native of Fayetteville.[5][2] Together, they have two daughters and five grandchildren.[5][2]

Military service[edit | edit source]

Early military career and Vietnam[edit | edit source]

He entered the Army in 1967 as a private in the infantry.[6][4][7][8] While attending Airborne School at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, he signed up for Army Special Forces after meeting Army SF recruiters.[4] After Brown completed the Special Forces Qualification Course, he was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group.[4] Shortly thereafter, he deployed to Vietnam as part of a Special Forces "A Team".[9][4] His interest in aviation started after returning to the United States from his tour in Vietnam.

During a ruck march at Mountain Ranger Camp, he became enthralled with helicopters after riding in a UH-1 helicopter during a reconnaissance flight over northern Georgia.[4] Immediately afterwards, he signed up for Officer Candidate School (OCS) and flight school.[4] He graduated OCS in May 1970, obtaining a field artillery officer commission as a second lieutenant.[10][2] He went on to earn his aviator badge in 1971 after attending Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama.[5][10] After aviation school, he returned to Vietnam as a UH-1 helicopter pilot.[4] He would go on to become the first member of the aviation branch to attain the rank of four-star general.[7]

160th SOAR[edit | edit source]

In June 1978, Brown was assigned to the 158th Aviation Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.[10][11] The 158th Aviation Battalion was part of Task Force 158,[10] which would later become the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) in 1981, with Brown as a founding member.[4][7] After Operation Eagle Claw's failure in 1980 during the Iran hostage crisis, Brown led planning efforts for the follow-up operation, known as Operation Credible Sport,[10] which would ultimately not come to fruition due to a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

In October 1983, while a member of the newly established 160th SOAR, Brown participated in the invasion of Grenada, during which they became the first aviation unit to use night vision goggles in combat.[9][4] In the late 1980s, Brown led U.S. forces in Operation Prime Chance, which provided escort security for Kuwaiti tankers during the Iran-Iraq War.[4] In 1988, he participated in Operation Mount Hope III, during which U.S. forces captured a crashed Soviet-made Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter in Chad.[4] During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Brown commanded a battalion within 160th SOAR in Operation Desert Storm. After Desert Storm, Brown lead the entire 160th SOAR,[9] becoming its third commanding officer.[11]

General Officer[edit | edit source]

Between 1994 and 1996, Brown served as assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), at Fort Riley, Kansas.[9] He later served as director of Plans, Policy and Strategic Assessments (J5/J7) at the U.S. Special Operations Command.[9] As a lieutenant general, he commanded the Joint Special Operations Command from 1998–2000.[12] Brown went on to lead U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) fom October 2000 to 2002.[13][2]

While at the helm of USASOC, Brown sought to modernize neglected aspects of Army special operations, mainly the civil affairs and psychological warfare units.[4] By the time Brown left, he had increased USASOC's budget by 200 percent.[4] After leading all of the Army's special forces for two years, Brown was selected to become the Deputy Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.[14] He held the position from 2002 until 2003 when he was nominated to take over U.S. Special Operations Command.[9]

Commander of USSOCOM[edit | edit source]

In 2003 Gen Brown awarded the first Distinguished Service Cross since Vietnam to Maj. Mark Mitchell for combat actions during the 2001 Battle of Qala-i-Jangi.

On September 2, 2003, Brown replaced Air Force General Charles R. Holland as the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.[9] During Brown's tenure as USSOCOM commander, he was involved in the aftermath of the Pat Tillman friendly fire incident that occurred in early 2004.[15] He testified before the congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2007 about receiving a memo from Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then-commander of JSOC, informing Brown that it was "highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire".[16][15] Ultimately, former commanding general of USASOC Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger and other Army officers were held responsible for the mishandling of information surrounding Tillman's death.[17]

On November 23, 2005, Brown, together with U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee announced the creation of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). Prior to the creation of MARSOC, the Marine Corps had not been involved in special operations, which were conducted by Army, Navy and Air Force units assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command. After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Secretary of Defense had directed the Marine Corps and Brown's predecessor to work closer together in the Global War on Terror. This culminated in the creation of MCSOCOM Detachment One on June 19, 2003, shortly before Brown took command of SOCOM. It was nearly three years later on February 24, 2006, when MARSOC was activated at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.[18]

Gen. Brown hands over the USSOCOM flag to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with Admiral Olson preparing to take charge of the command in 2007.

After four years of leading SOCOM through the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush nominated Rear Admiral Eric T. Olson to succeed Brown as the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command on May 11, 2007.[19] Brown and Olson had served at the SOCOM headquarters in Tampa together for four years, and Olson had been the deputy commander since 2003.[6] The change of command ceremony took place on July 9, 2007, at the Tampa Convention Center.[20] It was presided over by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.[20] During the ceremony, Gates said, "He came to this post four years ago determined to improve the way special operators fight. He has done just that".[21] Over the course of his military career, Brown amassed a total of 4,400 hours of flight time in fixed and rotary-winged aircraft.[12]

Education[edit | edit source]

His military education included the Field Artillery Officer Advance Course, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the United States Army War College.[22][12] At the Army War College in 1992, a then-Lieutenant Colonel Brown co-wrote a military studies program with future NORTHCOM commander, Victor E. Renuart, Jr., a paper titled Combat Search and Rescue: A Search for Tomorrow. In it, Brown was highly critical of the United States Air Force, saying, "The U.S. Air Force is the proponent agency for search and rescue, but chose not to deploy any forces to Desert Storm".[23] Brown graduated from the Harvard Executive Education Program's National and International Security Managers Course.[22][12][24] He received a bachelor's degree in history from Cameron University, as well as a master's degree in business from Webster University.[22][12][24]

Post-military life[edit | edit source]

In November 2007, shortly after Brown retired from the Army, he joined the board of directors for Aurora Flight Sciences,[12] which specializes in the scientific and military applications of robotic aircraft and aerospace vehicles.[12] Brown is the president and founder of his own consultation firm, Tier 4 Consulting.[5][25] He serves on the board of directors for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation,[26] and the board of directors for The Protective Group,[27] a company which specializes in developing composite armor for personnel, vehicles and aircraft.[28] He is a senior advisor to the CEO of Smith & Wesson.[5]

Awards and honors[edit | edit source]

General Brown was awarded the following military awards and decorations:

US Army Master Aviator Badge.png
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif
SpecialForcesTabMetal.jpg USAF - Occupational Badge - High Altitude Low Opening.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Badge Master Aviator Badge
Badge Parachutist Badge
Badge Special Forces Tab Military Free Fall Parachute Badge
1st Row Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 2 oak leaf clusters Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit
2nd Row Awards Distinguished Flying Cross Bronze Star Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 2 oak leaf clusters
3rd Row Awards Air Medal w/ valor device Joint Service Commendation Medal Army Commendation Medal Army Good Conduct Medal
4th Row Awards National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w 3 service stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 service star Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star
5th Row Awards Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Humanitarian Service Medal Army Service Ribbon Army Overseas Service Ribbon
6th Row Awards NATO Medal for Yugoslavia Vietnam Campaign Medal w/ "60" Device Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) Kuwait Liberation Medal
Unit Awards Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 2 oak leaf clusters

Other accolades[edit | edit source]

The dedication ceremony for renaming the 160th SOAR compound the "GEN Bryan "Doug" Brown Compound"

Shortly after his retirement, Brown was named "Patriot of the Year" for 2007 by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and he also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.[5][24] The following year, he was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.[10][5] The Association of Special Operations Professionals named Brown "Man of the Year" in 2011.[4] In 2012, the 160th SOAR compound at Fort Campbell was renamed the "Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown Compound" in his honor.[11][29]

In film[edit | edit source]

Year Title Portrayal Notes
2010 The Tillman Story Himself The documentary shows footage of Brown's testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2007.

Works by Bryan Brown[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Marquis Who's Who on the Web
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Clark Cox (9 November 2001). "Gen. Brown, Lipton to Speak". thepilot.com. http://archives.thepilot.com/November2001/11-09-01/110901GenBrown.html. 
  3. "89th Infantry Division of World War II: June-August 2004 Newsletter". 89infdivww2.org. http://www.89infdivww2.org/home/aug2004.htm. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 John D. Gresham (May 31, 2011). "A Warrior’s Life: An Interview with Gen. Bryan "Doug" Brown, USA (Ret.)". Defense Media Network. http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/a-warrior%E2%80%99s-life-an-interview-with-gen-bryan-%E2%80%9Cdoug%E2%80%9D-brown-usa-ret/. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 "Securing America's Future Energy". Secureenergy.org. September 1, 2007. http://www.secureenergy.org/energy-security-leadership-council/general-bryan-doug-brown-us-army-ret. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "First SEAL Tapped to Head SOCOM". Military.com. May 11, 2007. http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,135457,00.html. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 John D. Gresham (October 15, 2009). "General Bryan D. Brown Interview". Defense Media Network. http://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/interview-gen-bryan-d-brown-usa-ret/. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  8. William R. Levesque (May 12, 2007). "Navy officer is selected to head SOCom". http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=A-5RAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hXQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6671,1010268&dq=brown+olson+socom+commander&hl=en. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  9. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 "General Bryan D. Brown, Ret". Quad-a.org. http://www.quad-a.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=86&Itemid=76. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  10. 11.0 11.1 11.2 David Snow. "160th SOAR makes rare dedication - The Eagle Post : News". The Eagle Post. http://www.theeaglepost.us/news/article_8d21c800-9f06-11e1-91ba-001a4bcf887a.html. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  11. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 "Former SOCOM Commander General Doug Brown Joins Aurora’s Board of Directors". Aurora Flight Sciences. 5 November 2007. http://www.aurora.aero/Common/Downloads/Media/PDF/APR-201.pdf. 
  12. "News Release: General Officer Announcement". Defense.gov. July 27, 2000. http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=2597. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  13. "News Release: General Officer Announcements". Defense.gov. July 3, 2002. http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=3409. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  14. 15.0 15.1 "Online NewsHour: Report - Rumsfeld Denies Part in Cover-Up". PBS. August 1, 2007. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/july-dec07/tillman_08-01.html. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  15. Mary Tillman (August 8, 2010). "Pat Tillman's mother on Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal: I told you so – Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/08/opinion/la-oe-tillman-mcchrystal-20100808. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  16. "Lt. General Philip Kensinger Called 'Responsible' in Pat Tillman Case – ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. March 24, 2007. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/International/called-responsible-tillman-case/story?id=2979041. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  17. Priddy, Maj. Wade (2006). "Marine Detachment 1: Opening the door for a Marine force contribution to USSOCom". Marine Corps Association. pp. 58–59. 
  18. Ann Scott Tyson (May 11, 2007). "Olson Picked to Lead U.S. Special Operations Command". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/10/AR2007051001441.html. Retrieved May 19, 2007. 
  19. 20.0 20.1 "USSOCOM holds historic change of command". hurlburt.af.mil. July 22, 2007. http://www2.hurlburt.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123061677. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  20. Jim Garamone (July 9, 2007). "Navy admiral takes helm of U.S. Special Ops command". Af.mil. Archived from the original on June 26, 2013. http://archive.is/iGdJz. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  21. 22.0 22.1 22.2 "Q&A: General Bryan D. Brown". Kmimediagroup.com. September 11, 2001. http://www.kmimediagroup.com/sotech-home/175-sotech-2008-volume-5-issue-3/1633-qaa-general-bryan-d-brown.html. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  22. "Combat Search and Rescue: A Search for Tomorrow". United States Army War College. 1992. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a250820.pdf. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  23. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "HKS Executive Education". Ksgexecprogram.harvard.edu. http://ksgexecprogram.harvard.edu/Faculty/bryan_brown.aspx. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  24. Bryan Bender (December 27, 2010). "The 2007 class of retiring generals". Boston.com. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/specials/122610_generals_list/. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  25. "Board of Directors - Special Operations Warrior Foundation". Specialops.org. http://www.specialops.org/?page=BoardofDirectors. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  26. "The Protective Group, Inc.: Board of Directors - Businessweek". Investing.businessweek.com. http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/board.asp?privcapId=9709281. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  27. "The Protective Group". The Protective Group. http://www.protectivegroup.com/. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  28. "160th SOAR (A) compound dedicated to former commander". Soc.mil. May 22, 2012. http://www.soc.mil/UNS/Releases/2012/May/120522-01.html. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Michael Canavan
Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
1998 – 2000
Succeeded by
Dell L. Dailey
Preceded by
William Tangney
Commander of United States Army Special Operations Command
October 11, 2000 – August 29, 2002
Succeeded by
Philip R. Kensinger, Jr.
Preceded by
Charles R. Holland
Commander of United States Special Operations Command
September 2, 2003 – July 9, 2007
Succeeded by
Eric T. Olson

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