President Joe Biden has nominated Adm. Christopher W. Grady, head of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command, to take over as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff just weeks before Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten is set to retire from the position.
Hyten, who took on the role of vice chairman in November 2019, announced last year that he would not seek another term as the military’s No. 2 officer behind the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In recent weeks, Hyten has made headlines by criticizing over-classification, bureaucracy, and risk aversion in the Pentagon, warning that China could soon overtake the U.S. in military power if action is not taken.
Now, with less than three weeks remaining before Hyten’s departure date of Nov. 20, Grady’s nomination would have to be rushed through in near-record time to avoid a vacancy. Hyten’s own nomination process stretched on for more than five months, and every Chairman and Vice Chairman in the last decade has taken at least a month to be confirmed by the full Senate.
Grady has led the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command/U.S. Naval Forces Northern Command since May 2018. He has also held the duties of commander for U.S. Naval Forces Strategic Command and U.S. Strategic Command Joint Force Maritime Component since February 2019.
Prior to that, Grady also served as commander of the 6th Fleet and the Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, as well as deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. He has also worked on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as an aide to the Chief of Naval Operations.
Assuming Grady is confirmed by the Senate, it will mark the first time since July 2015 that an Air Force general will not be serving as either Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley ascended to the role of Chairman in October 2019, and his term is set to last until 2023.