Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Vice Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff

Flag of the Vice Chairman of the JCS
General Paul J. Selva, USAF

since July 31, 2015
U.S. Department of Defense
Member of Defense Acquisition Board
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Requirements Oversight Council
Reports to The President
Secretary of Defense
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Seat The Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Appointer The President
with Senate advice and consent
Term length 2 years
Constituting instrument 10 U.S.C. § 154
Precursor None
Formation February 6, 1987
First holder Robert T. Herres
Deputy Director of the Joint Staff
Website Official Website

The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VJCS) is, by U.S. law, the second highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces [1] ranking just below the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Vice Chairman outranks all respective heads of each service branch, with the exception of the Chairman, but does not have operational command authority over their service branches.[1] The Goldwater–Nichols Act of 1986 created the position of VJCS to assist the Chairman in exercising his duties. In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice Chairman presides over the meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all other duties prescribed under 10 U.S.C. § 153 and may also perform other duties that the President, the Chairman, or the Secretary of Defense prescribes.[1]


Although the office of Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is considered to be very important and highly prestigious, neither the Vice Chairman nor the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a body have any command authority over combatant forces. The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense directly to the commanders of the Unified Combatant Commands.[2] The Vice Chairman is nominated by the President for appointment and must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate.[1] The Chairman and Vice Chairman may not be members of the same armed force service branch.[1] However, the President may waive that restriction for a limited period of time in order to provide for the orderly transition of officers appointed to serve in those positions.[1] The Vice Chairman serves a two-year term of office at the pleasure of the President,[1] but can be reappointed to serve two additional terms for a total of six years.[1] In case of times of war or national emergency, there is no limit to how many times an officer can be reappointed to serve as Vice Chairman.[1] Historically, the Vice Chairman has served two terms. By statute, the Vice Chairman is appointed as a four-star general or admiral.[1]

List of Vice Chairmen

Name Photo Branch Term began Term ended
1. Gen Robert T. Herres USAF February 6, 1987 February 28, 1990
2. ADM David E. Jeremiah double-dagger USN March 1, 1990 February 28, 1994
3. ADM William "Bill" Owens USN March 1, 1994 February 27, 1996
4. Gen Joseph Ralston USAF March 1, 1996 February 29, 2000
5. Gen Richard Myers dagger USAF February 29, 2000 October 1, 2001
6. Gen Peter Pace dagger USMC October 1, 2001 August 12, 2005
7. ADM Edmund Giambastiani USN August 12, 2005 July 27, 2007
8. Gen James E. Cartwright USMC August 31, 2007 August 3, 2011
9. ADM James A. Winnefeld, Jr. USN August 4, 2011 July 31, 2015
10. Gen Paul J. Selva USAF July 31, 2015 Incumbent
dagger - Later served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
double-dagger - Served as acting Chairman

Vice Chairman by Branch of Service

Positional Color

VJCS flag with yellow fringe.

The positional color (flag) of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is white with a diagonal medium blue strip from upper hoist to lower fly. Centered on the flag is an American bald eagle with wings spread horizontally, in proper colors. The talons grasp three crossed arrows. A shield with blue chief and thirteen red and white stripes is on the eagle’s breast. Diagonally, from upper fly to lower hoist are four five-pointed stars, medium blue on the white, two above the eagle, and two below. The fringe is yellow; the cord and tassels are medium blue and white. The design was approved by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger on 20 January 1987.[3]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10 USC 154. Vice Chairman
  2. 10 USC 162. Combatant commands: assigned forces; chain of command
  3. Army Regulation 840-10, paragraph 3-14 (2 Apr. 1992).
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