Gen. John E. Hyten, who led Air Force Space Command before becoming commander of U.S. Strategic Command, has been nominated to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The nomination, if approved, would elevate someone who is deeply familiar with military space issues—including those impacting GPS—to be the second ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces. He would be in a key position to advise the White House at a critical time as the Department of Defense weighs how to reorganize its management of military space to meet the challenges posed by near-peer adversaries.
Allegations of sexual misconduct have clouded the nomination though a military investigation found insufficient evidence to support charges.
Hyten has served in space-related posts since 1994 and was often seen on Capitol Hill. During testimony before the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces in 2016 he spoke about the potential of a broadband network proposed by Ligado Networks to interfere with GPS receivers.
“You may recall that your predecessor Gen. (William) Shelton testified pretty much from where you’re sitting right now,” said then-subcommittee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Alabama). “[He] warned that a proposal under consideration by the FCC would have created extensive, harmful interference to GPS.”
Hyten said he had yet to see information showing that changes Ligado had made to its proposal were enough to make it workable.
“I’ve heard that Ligado has put forth a new proposal to use that spectrum, but I’ll tell you Congressmen I have seen no data that supports the use of the frequency spectrum other than the data I saw in 2011,” Hyten said. “So, the position of Air Force Space Command is the same as it was when Gen. Shelton sat in that seat. I don’t think that we should infringe on the GPS spectrum. That’s a critical capability not just for the military security of the nation but for the entire economic well-being of this nation. We can’t allow that to happen.”
Hyten told lawmakers the Air Force was supporting the GPS Adjacent Band Compatibility Assessment being conducted by the Department of Transportation that, at that time, was set to start testing.
“We’re trying to be good partners as we work at that,” Hyten told the subcommittee, “but the partnership has to be based on real testing, real impacts and what the impacts to national security are. We cannot do something that will infringe on our national security. Period.”