John E. Hyten

John Earl Hyten (born 1959) is a United States Air Force general who serves as the 11th Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[3] He has served as Vice Chairman since November 21, 2019.

John E. Hyten
Hyten VCJCS (2).jpg
General John E. Hyten in 2019
Birth nameJohn Earl Hyten[1]
Born1959 (age 61–62)[2]
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Air Force
Years of service1981–present
Commands heldVice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
United States Strategic Command
Air Force Space Command
50th Space Wing
595th Space Group
6th Space Operations Squadron
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Iraq War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Defense Meritorious Service Medal (3)
Meritorious Service Medal (5)

Early lifeEdit

Hyten grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, where his father worked on the Saturn V rocket.[4] He graduated from Grissom High School and attended Harvard University where he studied engineering and applied sciences on an Air Force ROTC scholarship.[5]

Military careerEdit

Hyten sworn in as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in November 2019

Before assuming command of the United States Strategic Command on 3 November 2016, Hyten commanded Air Force Space Command.[6][7] On 9 April 2014, Hyten was confirmed by the Senate for promotion to the rank of General and appointment as Commander, Air Force Space Command.[8] On 15 March 2013, it was announced that Hyten had been nominated to be Commander, Fourteenth Air Force and Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command. This would have had him exchanging jobs with the incumbent Lieutenant General Susan J. Helms.[9] However, Helms' nomination was put on hold by Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill resulting in the withdrawal of the nomination and leading to the retirement of Helms.[10][11]

Hyten's staff assignments include tours with the Air Force Secretariat, the Air Staff, the Joint Staff and the Commander's Action Group at Headquarters Air Force Space Command as Director. He served as mission director in Cheyenne Mountain and was the last active-duty commander of the 6th Space Operations Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. In 2006, he deployed to Southwest Asia as Director of Space Forces for operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Hyten commanded the 595th Space Group and the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Prior to assuming command of Air Force Space Command, he served as the Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command.

Hyten was nominated for reassignment to head the United States Strategic Command on 8 September 2016. This nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 28 September 2016[12] after a confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on 20 September.[13] The change of command ceremony occurred on 3 November.[14]

In November 2017, Hyten stated that if he determines Donald Trump's order for a nuclear strike to be illegal, then "I'm going to say: 'Mr President, that's illegal.' And guess what he's going to do? He's going to say, 'What would be legal?' And we'll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that's the way it works."[15]

In April 2019, Hyten was nominated to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[16] The U.S. Senate confirmed him on September 26, 2019, by a vote of 75–22.[17][18][19][20] He assumed duties as the Vice Chairman 21 November 2019, making him the second highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Hyten has stated that he hopes to reduce overclassification in the Department of Defense.[21]

It was announced that by the year of 2021 Hyten are expected to retire and would not seek for second-term as Vice Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff.[22][23]

Sexual misconduct allegationEdit

In July 2019, an unnamed senior military officer spoke to the Associated Press accusing the general of sexual misconduct in 2017 while she was one of his aides. The officer claimed the unwanted touching and kissing happened during the 2017 Reagan National Defense Forum in California and several times during the year while working as his aide. The officer told the Associated Press: "My life was ruined by this".[24]

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations opened an investigation, which included interviews with fifty-three witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of emails. The investigation found no evidence or information to substantiate the allegations. The court martial convening authority, General Mike Holmes, declined to take any action given the lack of supporting evidence concerning the allegations.[25]

The accuser identified herself as Colonel Kathryn A. Spletstoser, former Director, Commander's Action Group, United States Strategic Command, on July 26, 2019.[26]

On July 30, Hyten appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee for his confirmation hearing for Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, following five closed-door sessions. No members of the committee supported the accusations in the public hearing, with Senator Martha McSally stating that "sexual assault happens in the military. It just didn't happen in this case" and that "the full truth was revealed in this process... General Hyten is innocent of these charges."[27]


Hyten attended Harvard University on an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship, graduated in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in engineering and applied sciences and was commissioned a second lieutenant. Hyten's career includes assignments in a variety of space acquisition and operations positions. He served in senior engineering positions on both Air Force and Army anti-satellite weapon system programs.


Begin End Assignment Duty Station
November 1981 December 1985 Configuration Management Officer and Chief, Configuration Management Division, Automated Systems Program Office Gunter AFB, Ala.
December 1985 July 1989 Chief Software Development Branch and Chief, Engineering and Acquisition Division, Space Defense Programs Office Los Angeles AFB, Calif.
August 1989 July 1990 Special Adviser to the U.S. Army, Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite Program Office, U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command Huntsville, Ala.
July 1990 August 1991 Deputy for Engineering, Strategic Defense Initiatives Program Office Los Angeles AFB, Calif.
August 1991 May 1992 Executive Speechwriter and Systems Analyst, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
May 1992 July 1993 Program Element Monitor, Advanced Technology Programs, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
July 1993 June 1994 Student, Air Command and Staff College Maxwell AFB, Ala.
July 1994 June 1996 Mission Director, Space Operations Officer and Chief, Command Center Training, U.S. Space Command Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo.
August 1996 August 1998 Commander, 6th Space Operations Squadron Offutt AFB, Neb.
August 1998 June 1999 National Defense Fellow University of Illinois, Champaign
June 1999 June 2001 Operations Officer, and Chief, Space Branch, Defense and Space Operations Division, Deputy Director for Operations (Current Readiness and Capabilities), J3, Joint Staff The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
June 2001 June 2003 Chief, Space Control Division, Directorate for Space Operations and Integration, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
June 2003 July 2004 Director, Commander's Action Group, Air Force Space Command Peterson AFB, Colo.
July 2004 April 2005 Commander, 595th Space Group Schriever AFB, Colo.
April 2005 May 2007 Commander, 50th Space Wing Schriever AFB, Colo.
May 2006 October 2006 Director of Space Forces, U.S. Central Command Air Forces Southwest Asia
May 2007 September 2009 Director of Requirements, Air Force Space Command Peterson AFB, Colo.
September 2009 February 2010 Director, Cyber and Space Operations, Directorate of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
February 2010 August 2010 Director, Space Acquisition, Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
September 2010 May 2012 Director, Space Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
May 2012 August 2014 Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command Peterson AFB, Colo.
August 2014 25 October 2016 Commander, Air Force Space Command Peterson AFB, Colo.
3 November 2016 18 November 2019 Commander, United States Strategic Command Offutt AFB, Neb.
21 November 2019 Present Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff The Pentagon, Washington D.C.[14]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Hyten is entitled to the following awards and decorations:[6]

  Command Space Operations Badge
  Master Cyberspace Operator Badge
  Joint Chiefs of Staff Badge
  Headquarters Air Force Badge
  Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
    Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
      Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters
  Air Force Commendation Medal
  Army Commendation Medal
  Joint Service Achievement Medal
  Air Force Achievement Medal
    Joint Meritorious Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award with silver oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
  Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
  Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  Air and Space Campaign Medal
  Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal
  Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with gold frame
      Air Force Longevity Service Award with one silver and three bronze oak leaf clusters
  Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  Air Force Training Ribbon


Insignia Rank Date
  General 15 August 2014
  Lieutenant General 18 May 2012
  Major General 10 November 2010
  Brigadier General 1 October 2007
  Colonel 1 June 2002
  Lieutenant Colonel 1 January 1997
  Major 1 May 1993
  Captain 23 August 1985
  First Lieutenant 23 August 1983
  Second Lieutenant 23 August 1981

Other achievementsEdit

  • 1991 Recipient of the William Jump Award for Excellence within the Federal Government
  • 1998 Recipient of a Laurels Award, Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine
  • 2009 Gen. Jerome F. O'Malley Distinguished Space Leadership Award
  • 2014 Dr. Wernher Von Braun Space Flight Trophy
  • 2014 General Thomas D. White Space Award
  • 2018 Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy


  1. ^ Hyten, John E. (26 October 2017). "U.S. Space & Rocket Center: Dr. Werhner von Braun Memorial Reception". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  2. ^ Liewer, Steve. "'The world is still a very dangerous place': Gen. Hyten takes helm of StratCom at a time of increasing global tensions".
  3. ^ Pawlyk, Oriana (26 September 2019). "Senate Confirms Air Force Gen. Hyten as Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman". Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  4. ^ Roop, Lee (9 April 2019). "Air Force general with Alabama ties tapped for No. 2 Pentagon job". Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  5. ^ Smith, Marcia. "Hyten Nominated to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs". Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b "General John E. Hyten". United States Air Force. November 2016. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Huntsville native receives third star on Air Force uniform and post with Space Command". 21 June 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  8. ^ "PN1508 – Nomination of Lt. Gen. John E. Hyten for Air Force, 113th Congress (2013–2014) | | Library of Congress". Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  9. ^ "General assignments, nominations announced | Air Force Times |". Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Obama Withdraws Helms Nomination |". 9 November 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Helms to retire after stalled job change". Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  12. ^ "PN1706 — Gen. John E. Hyten — Air Force". U.S. Congress. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  13. ^ Gould, Joe (20 September 2016). "STRATCOM Nominee Favors Boosting Cyber Command, Nuke Modernization". DefenseNews. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Admiral hands reins to General at U.S. Strategic Command". WOWT.
  15. ^ "US nuclear boss to resist 'illegal' order". 19 November 2017.
  16. ^ Smith, Marcia. "Hyten Nominated to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs". Space Policy Online. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  17. ^ Shane, Leo (2019-09-30). "Hyten confirmed as new Joint Chiefs vice chairman despite sexual assault accusations". Military Times. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  18. ^ "John Hyten confirmed as Joint Chiefs vice chairman despite sexual assault allegation". POLITICO. 2019-09-26. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  19. ^ "Hyten confirmed as Joint Chiefs vice chairman despite sexual assault allegations - U.S." Stripes. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  20. ^ "Air Force Gen. John Hyten confirmed as nation's No. 2 military officer despite aide's sexual misconduct allegations". Fox News. 2019-07-30. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  21. ^ Mehta, Aaron (January 29, 2020). "'Unbelievably ridiculous': Four-star general seeks to clean up Pentagon's classification process". Defense News. Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday that he hopes to see “significant improvement” this year on loosening classification standards in the infamously overclassified Pentagon.
  22. ^ LaGrone, Sam (November 13, 2020). "Joint Chiefs Vice Chair John Hyten Expected to Retire Next Year; Shortest Tenure in Job Since 2007". Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  23. ^ Pawlyk, Oriana (November 14, 2020). "Gen. Hyten, Embattled Joint Chiefs Vice Chair, Will Not Seek Second Term". Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  24. ^ Baldor, Lolita C. (2019-07-11). "AP Exclusive: Officer alleges sexual misconduct by general". Associated Press. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  25. ^ Barbara Starr; Zachary Cohen. "Air Force clears senior general of sexual misconduct allegations". CNN.
  26. ^ Cooper, Helene (July 26, 2019). "'I Have a Moral Responsibility to Come Forward': Colonel Accuses Top Military Nominee of Assault" – via
  27. ^ Demirjian, Koroun. "Two senators split sharply in assessments of general accused of sexual assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 August 2019.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
Michael J. Basla
Vice Commander of the Air Force Space Command
Succeeded by
David J. Buck
Preceded by
William L. Shelton
Commander of the Air Force Space Command
Succeeded by
John W. Raymond
Preceded by
Cecil D. Haney
Commander of the United States Strategic Command
Succeeded by
Charles A. Richard
Preceded by
Paul J. Selva
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Joseph Dunford
as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
David H. Berger
as Commandant of the Marine Corps