The process of selecting, vetting, and nominating a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is often viewed as highly idiosyncratic—revolving around “politics” (however defined), rotation among the military services, or simply trying to choose the best flag officer. However, there is an underlying pattern to the nomination, irrespective of the character of an administration, its policies, or its personalities. Key decision-making points are knowable and can be studied systematically. The following is based on the statistical analysis of 17 selections from 1949 to 2007 involving 199 four-star officers potential nominees; of these, 47 were identified as having been on administration short-lists.
The Selection Process