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. The Vice Chairman is nominated by the President for appointment and must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate. The Chairman and Vice Chairman may not be members of the same armed force service branch. 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. The Vice Chairman serves a two-year term of office at the pleasure of the President, but can be reappointed to serve two additional terms for a total of six years. In case of times of war or nation emergency, there is no limit to how many times an officer can be reappointed to serve as Vice Chairman. Historically, the Vice Chairman has served two terms. By statute, the Vice Chairman is appointed as a four-stargeneral or admiral.
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 DefenseCaspar Weinberger on 20 January 1987.