The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Tuesday to approve the nomination of Lt. Gen. John Raymond to receive a fourth star and take over Air Force Space Command. If approved by the full Senate, he will replace Gen. John Hyten, who President Obama nominated to lead US Strategic Command. Raymond has served as the deputy chief of staff for operations since August 2015, and previously served as the commander of 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and as director of plans and policy for US Strategic Command. SASC also approved the nomination of Maj. Gen. Mark Kelly, who currently serves as the special assistant to Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle, to receive his third star and command the 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern). There is no specific timeline for when the full Senate will vote on the nominations. Hyten’s nomination to head STRATCOM and Lt. Gen. Mike Holmes’ nomination to head ACC are still pending before SASC.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.