WASHINGTON — U.S. Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler was nominated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to be the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, the Defense Department announced Sept. 2.

Kehler has been the commanding general at Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., since October 2007. He will succeed Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, who is set to retire from duty in December. In their previous assignments, Kehler was the deputy commander of Strategic Command and Chilton was the commander of Air Force Space Command.

The U.S. Senate must vote to confirm Kehler to the new post. A date for his confirmation hearing has not been announced. Kehler’s replacement at Air Force Space Command has not been named, Air Force spokesman Andy Roake said.