Vice Adm. Charles Richard has been selected by the Senate to take charge of the Offutt-based U.S. Strategic Command.
Richard, a 27-year member of the Navy’s submarine force, served as StratCom’s deputy commander from 2016 to 2018. He will take the helm from Gen. John Hyten, who was recently confirmed as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Hyten has led StratCom, which is based at Offutt Air Force Base, for three years.
Richard won unanimous approval from the Senate late Thursday on a voice vote.
“I’m happy to see the Senate swiftly confirm Admiral Richard,” Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska said in a statement. Fischer chairs the Senate subcommittee on strategic forces.
Richard will be the first commander to occupy StratCom’s brand-new, $1.3 billion headquarters at Offutt, but he will still face some old problems.
His two most recent predecessors have strongly advocated for modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Major components of the air-land-sea nuclear triad — long the bedrock of strategic defense for the U.S. and its allies — are in need of expensive upgrades. He will need to compete for scarce funds in order to continue that process.
The two aging OC-135B jets that carry out the Open Skies aerial photography missions are based at Offutt . Nebraska’s congressional delegation has strongly supported plans to replace the aircraft and continue in the treaty, but it is opposed by some hawkish Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who argue that Russia is violating it.
“We do derive some benefit from it, particularly with our allies,” Richard said in response to a question from Cotton. “We would need to make the appropriate resource and operational commitments to utilize the full provisions of the treaty if we were to remain.”
Richard, a native of Decatur, Alabama, graduated from the University of Alabama in 1982.
During his career, he has commanded the deep-submergence submarine USS Parche; Submarine Squadron 17 in Bangor, Washington; and Submarine Group 10 in King’s Bay, Georgia. He also served as the Navy’s director of undersea warfare.
Since leaving StratCom’s deputy position in August 2018, Richard has been commander of the Navy’s Submarine Forces.
No date has been set for the change of command.