Wittman will take over as the House panel's Readiness subcommittee chairman, replacing Forbes when he moves to the Seapower subpanel, according to a statement by McKeon's office.
“It is an honor to be chosen to chair the Seapower subcommittee,” Forbes said in a statement issued shortly after being named the subpanel head.
"As a maritime nation, I firmly believe our sea power and projection forces — the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force — are the cornerstones of our national security strategy," he added.
Forbes, along with Wittman and Hunter, has been a vocal advocate for Navy issues on the full committee. Most recently, Forbes led the charge against a Navy plan to retire seven cruisers from the fleet early in its fiscal 2013 defense budget blueprint.
On the air power side, Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner will take the gavel as the new chairman of the committee's Tactical Air and Land Forces subpanel, replacing longtime subcommittee chief former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.
The Maryland Republican leaves the House after his tough reelection bid ended in defeat at the hands of John Delaney in November.
Turner and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) were considered the front-runners for the job prior to McKeon's announcement Thursday.
"This subcommittee places me in a role to continue my strong advocacy for the men and women ... which preserve the safety and security of our nation,” said Turner shortly after receiving his chairmanship.
Thornberry was seen has having the inside track to retain his vice chairmanship of the full Armed Services panel, but Turner has continually been one of the most vocal voices on the committee.
Thornberry will remain in his post, dual-hatted as committee vice chairman and head of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subpanel, while Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) will take the reins from Turner on the Strategic Forces subcommittee.
Rounding out McKeon's roster of subcommittee chairman is Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who will head up the House panel's Readiness subcommittee, according to the release.
“The key to fostering the well being of our military forces and the security of our country, is for our subcommittees and their chairmen to continue the longstanding bi-partisan tradition of the Armed Services Committee," McKeon said in a statement issued Thursday.