Gen. Hyten, Embattled Joint Chiefs Vice Chair, Will Not Seek Second Term

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The commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, appears at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2019. (Lisa Ferdinando/DoD Photo)
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, appears at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2019. (Lisa Ferdinando/DoD Photo)

The nation's second-highest military officer will retire next year instead of seeking a new term in the Pentagon.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will not seek renomination to the position following his two-year tenure and will instead retire, according to his spokeswoman.

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"General Hyten has always understood his tenure as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would last two years and plans to retire upon the completion of his term," Maj. Trisha Guillebeau, said in a statement Friday. The news of Hyten's retirement was first reported Friday by USNI News.

Hyten's term is set to conclude Nov. 20, 2021.

Under federal law, the position of vice chairman is appointed and confirmed by the Senate for a two-year term. The law was recently amended, however, within the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. It established a four-year term for any vice chairman appointed after January 1, 2021.

"The intent of Congress was to offset the Chairman and the Vice Chairman positions by two years," Guillebeau said. The next vice chairman will serve a four-year term.

The news of Hyten's retirement comes after a federal judge last month rejected the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against Hyten by his former top aide, a subordinate female officer.

The lawsuit, filed by former Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser, who served for 28 years, alleges he sexually assaulted her while she worked for him at U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska. Spletstoser first brought the allegations against Hyten in spring 2019; The former colonel has maintained Hyten assaulted her multiple times between 2017 and 2018. Hyten, meanwhile, has asserted he is innocent.

When the allegations surfaced in July 2019, an Air Force investigation report showed that officials were unable to corroborate the assault. As a result, the military did not charge or recommend any administrative punishment against Hyten.

Guillebeau said that Hyten has previously mentioned retirement throughout his military career, which he had planned to do prior to becoming the vice chairman. The Washington Post in 2019 noted that Spletstoser had also believed Hyten planned to retire after his assignment at STRATCOM.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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