(a) The President may designate positions of importance and responsibility to carry the grade of general or admiral or lieutenant general or vice admiral. The President may assign to any such position an officer of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps who is serving on active duty in any grade above colonel or, in the case of an officer of the Navy, any grade above captain. An officer assigned to any such position has the grade specified for that position if he is appointed to that grade by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Except as provided in subsection (b), the appointment of an officer to a grade under this section for service in a position of importance and responsibility ends on the date of the termination of the assignment of the officer to that position.
(b) An officer who is appointed to the grade of general, admiral, lieutenant general, or vice admiral for service in a position designated under subsection (a) or by law to carry that grade shall continue to hold that grade--
(1) while serving in that position;
(2) while under orders transferring him to another position designated under subsection (a) or by law to carry one of those grades, beginning on the day his assignment to the first position is terminated and ending on the day before the day on which he assumes the second position;
(3) while hospitalized, beginning on the day of the hospitalization and ending on the day he is discharged from the hospital, but not for more than 180 days;
(4) at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense, while the officer is awaiting orders after being relieved from the position designated under subsection (a) or by law to carry one of those grades, but not for more than 60 days beginning on the day the officer is relieved from the position, unless, during such period, the officer is placed under orders to another position designated under subsection (a) or by law to carry one of those grades, in which case paragraph (2) will also apply to the officer; and
(5) while awaiting retirement, beginning on the day he is relieved from the position designated under subsection (a) or by law to carry one of those grades and ending on the day before his retirement, but not for more than 60 days.
(c)(1) An appointment of an officer under subsection (a) does not vacate the permanent grade held by the officer.
(2) An officer serving in a grade above major general or rear admiral who holds the permanent grade of brigadier general or rear admiral (lower half) shall be considered for promotion to the permanent grade of major general or rear admiral, as appropriate, as if he were serving in his permanent grade.
(d)(1) When an officer is recommended to the President for an initial appointment to the grade of lieutenant general or vice admiral, or for an initial appointment to the grade of general or admiral, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall submit to the Secretary of Defense the Chairman's evaluation of the performance of that officer as a member of the Joint Staff and in other joint duty assignments. The Secretary of Defense shall submit the Chairman's evaluation to the President at the same time the recommendation for the appointment is submitted to the President.
(2) Whenever a vacancy occurs in a position within the Department of Defense that the President has designated as a position of importance and responsibility to carry the grade of general or admiral or lieutenant general or vice admiral or in an office that is designated by law to carry such a grade, the Secretary of Defense shall inform the President of the qualifications needed by an officer serving in that position or office to carry out effectively the duties and responsibilities of that position or office.
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