Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.: Nominee to be next PACOM chief was born in Japan
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has nominated an officer born in Yokosuka, Japan, to be the next commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. is currently serving as head of U.S. Pacific Fleet — the naval arm of PACOM which is based near Honolulu.
The Defense Department announced his nomination Monday.
If confirmed by the Senate, he would take charge of PACOM at a critical time in U.S. relations with Asia. The Obama administration is trying to execute a military and diplomatic pivot to the region as China becomes increasingly assertive in territorial disputes with its neighbors. Pentagon leaders are very worried about Beijing’s military modernization and fear that war could break out between China and other powers in the region.
PACOM’s area of responsibility includes most of Asia, and Harris has an extensive background in the area.
He served three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1 based at Kami Seya, near Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, according to his Navy bio. His staff assignments include aide to the commander of U.S. Forces-Japan, according to his Navy bio.
Harris studied East Asian affairs while pursuing graduate studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University.
The Naval Academy graduate is a seasoned aviator, having has logged 4,400 flight hours, including more than 400 combat hours. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star, among other decorations.
Harris took part in many notable operations, including: the S.S. Achille Lauro terrorist hijacking response; Attain Document III (Libya, 1986); Earnest Will (Kuwaiti reflagged tanker ops, 1987-88); Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Southern Watch; Enduring Freedom; Iraqi Freedom; Willing Spirit (Colombia hostage rescue, 2006-7); and Odyssey Dawn (Libya, 2011).
Harris must be confirmed by the Senate before he can succeed Adm. Samuel Locklear III, the current head of PACOM.