- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2021

President Biden has nominated a Navy four-star admiral to be the country’s next No. 2 military officer, only weeks before the general he is replacing is scheduled to retire.

Adm. Christopher W. Grady, currently commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, was on the list of likely candidates set to follow Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen Hyten is scheduled to retire on Nov. 21, making it likely there will be a vacancy between his retirement and Adm. Grady‘s confirmation.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill have grumbled about the delay in nominating a replacement for Gen. Hyten, who took on the job in Nov. 2019. If confirmed, Adm. Grady will serve four years in the role after the tenure was lengthened by Congress in 2017. The intent was to offset the chairman and vice chairman positions by two years in order to ensure top-level continuity at the Pentagon.

“Gen. Hyten has always understood his tenure as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would last two years and [he] plans to retire  upon the completion of his term,” Maj. Trisha Guillebeau, a spokeswoman for Gen. Hyten, told USNI News.

Adm. Grady is a career surface warfare officer and has commanded minesweepers and destroyers during his Navy career. Fleet Forces Command is responsible for manning, training and equipping naval forces for combat commanders. Adm. Grady had been in the position for three years.

Although his name had been floated for the post, Adm. Grady must still go through a lengthy Senate confirmation process before he takes over as the Pentagon’s second most senior officer. Any gap could mean an empty seat at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the event of an unexpected crisis.

The Senate should expedite Adm. Grady‘s confirmation, said retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, a former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He called the admiral “a highly qualified military officer who fits” the demands of the job “perfectly.”

The vice chairman wears a number of hats at the Pentagon, including chairing the budget review process along with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks and the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

“Allowing subordinate officials to perform the duties of vice chair while Adm. Grady completes the confirmation process is not an acceptable solution nor is it good governance,” Gen. Punaro said Tuesday in a statement. “There should be no gap in service with a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff given the nature of today’s unpredictable world.”

Gen. Hyten made headlines in recent weeks when he complained about bureaucratic inertia in the Department of Defense even as China continues developing innovative military and space hardware while building a naval fleet.

“The [Department of Defense] is still unbelievably bureaucratic and slow,” Gen. Hyten said last month at an event hosted by the Defense Writers Group.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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