WASHINGTON -- Gen. John Hyten, the current head of US Air Force Space Command, has been nominated as the next leader of US Strategic Command.

Hyten will replace Adm. Cecil Haney. It is unclear if Haney will move to another role or retire.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called Hyten, who took over Space Command in August 2014, "a model for generations of men and women in uniform."

"Gen. Hyten is the perfect choice to lead this critical command in the years to come, as the men and women of STRATCOM carry out missions essential to our national defense - including sustaining nuclear deterrence through a safe, secure, and effective triad, helping defend our networks and deter malicious actors in cyberspace, and preparing for the possibility of a conflict that extends into space," Carter said in the statement.

Hyten's nomination had been widely expected following Wednesday’s announcement by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James that he would be replaced at Space Command by Lt. Gen. John "Jay" Raymond.

If confirmed by the Senate, Hyten will have his hands full at STRATCOM. The Pentagon is facing down a series of major nuclear modernization programs, all of which are starting in the next several years. Keeping those programs on track – and vitally, given their impact on the overall Pentagon budget, from going over cost – will be a major challenge as Hyten moves forward.

He also will have to deal with the threat of a modernizing nuclear force in Russia, as well as potential nuclear risks from North Korea, which this week successfully conducted a nuclear weapons test.