The White House nominated Air Force Gen. John Hyten to be vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opening up a vacancy at both the nation’s top nuclear command post, and a seat on the joint Pentagon-Department of Energy body that oversees nuclear weapons procurement, the Secretary of the Air Force said Tuesday.

Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command since November 2016, “was nominated this morning to be our next vice chairman of the joint chiefs  of staff,” Heather Wilson, outgoing Secretary of the Air Force, said Tuesday at the annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

If confirmed by the Senate for his new job, Hyten will serve a two-year term as the second-highest-ranking member of the Pentagon’s top advisory and policy group. Hyten would replace Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, whose two-year term as vice chairman of the all-services body ends this year.

The White House had not nominated anyone to succeed Hyten at deadline Tuesday for Defense Daily.

In his new job, Hyten would remain a member of the six-person Nuclear Weapons Council: a joint Pentagon-Department of Energy group that sets policy for nuclear weapons acquisition. Hyten’s replacement as commander of Strategic Command — traditionally an Air Force general or Navy admiral — will change the makeup of the council by adding one new face.

Besides military-funded delivery and carrier vehicles such as missiles, aircraft and submarines, the Nuclear Weapons Council considers procurement related to both the nuclear weapons funded by the civilian agency’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and of the civilian-owned infrastructure required to maintain those weapons.


Vivienne Machi contributed to this story from Colorado Spring.