Hyten Confirmed as Vice Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Hyten Confirmed as Vice Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), was just confirmed by the Senate to be the next Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The vote was 75-22.  Hyten, who has a long career in national security space, was cleared by an Air Force investigation of accusations by a former subordinate of sexual misconduct. The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) conducted its own investigation that convinced a majority of its members and now a majority of the Senate to vote in favor of his nomination.

Gen. John Hyten (USAF)

During his SASC nomination hearing in July, former Secretary of the Air Force (SecAF) Heather Wilson and Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) strongly endorsed him and rejected the accusations.

Wilson was SecAF when the allegations surfaced and directed the Air Force Office of Special Investigation to investigate.  McSally, a retired Air Force Colonel who recently revealed that she was raped by a superior officer while at the Air Force Academy, became the point person for SASC Republicans.  Both are convinced Hyten is innocent.

Wilson said she concluded Hyten was “falsely accused.”  McSally said the “full truth was revealed” during the committee’s investigation and the “truth is that Gen. Hyten is innocent of these charges.  Sexual assault happens in the military. It just didn’t happen this time.”

Not everyone on SASC agreed. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said that “while we have not been presented with any corroborating evidence, the lack of it does not necessarily mean the accusations aren’t true.”  The committee voted 20-7 to favorably report the nomination to the Senate.

Six SASC members voted against Hyten today, five Democrats (Blumenthal, Duckworth, Gillibrand, Hirono and Peters) and one Republican (Ernst). A seventh SASC member who reportedly voted no in committee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), was absent today.

Army Col. Kathyrn Spletstoser, Hyten’s accuser, continued to make her case to the media after the hearing that he should not be confirmed.

Hyten will succeed Gen. Paul Selva (USAF), who retired on July 31.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. (USMC), is also about to retire.  His successor, Gen. Mark Milley (USA), was confirmed by the Senate in July.

Hyten has a long career in space operations and leadership within the Air Force, including Commander of Air Force Space Command from 2014-2016.  He was assigned as commander of USSTRATCOM, one of the 11 unified combatant commands, in November 2016 where he commands U.S. strategic nuclear forces.

SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said after today’s vote that Hyten “has proven himself to be an accomplished, strategic leader who has served with integrity and honor, and who understands the threats our nation faces and the tools we have to meet and defeat those threats. … His path to confirmation was a fair, thorough, and bipartisan process, and the vote today reinforces that.”

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