John E. Hyten

Early life

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 career

Before assuming command of the United States Strategic Command, Hyten commanded Air Force Space Command.[6] Hyten assumed his current position on 3 November 2016.[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, which would make him the second highest ranking military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. [16]

Sexual misconduct allegation

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".[17]

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations opened an investigation, which found no evidence or information able 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. [18]

The accuser identified herself as Col Kathryn A. Spletstoser, former Director, Commander’s Action Group, United States Strategic Command, on July 26, 2019.[19]

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." [20]


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.


  • 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, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
  • June 2003 – July 2004, Director, Commander's Action Group, Headquarters 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, Headquarters 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, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, 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, 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, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Neb.
  • 21 November 2019 – present, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, Arlington, Va.[14]

Awards and decorations

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


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 achievements

  • 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. Liewer, Steve. "'The world is still a very dangerous place': Gen. Hyten takes helm of StratCom at a time of increasing global tensions".
  2. Hyten, John E. (26 October 2017). "U.S. Space & Rocket Center: Dr. Werhner von Braun Memorial Reception". Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  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. "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". 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 |". 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. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  13. Gould, Joe (20 September 2016). "STRATCOM Nominee Favors Boosting Cyber Command, Nuke Modernization". DefenseNews. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  14. WOWT. "Admiral hands reins to General at U.S. Strategic Command".
  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. Baldor, Lolita C. (2019-07-11). "AP Exclusive: Officer alleges sexual misconduct by general". Associated Press. Retrieved 2019-07-11.
  20. Demirjian, Koroun. "Two senators split sharply in assessments of general accused of sexual assault". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
Military offices
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 L. Goldfein
as Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force
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