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US Pacific Command, US Pacific Fleet Hold Change of Command Ceremonies

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jay M. Chu | U.S. Pacific Command Public Affairs | May 28, 2015

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and U.S. Pacific Fleet (USPACFLT) held a joint change of command ceremony onboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May 27.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter presided over the ceremony as Adm. Scott H. Swift assumed command of U.S. Pacific Fleet from Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr. and Harris assumed command of USPACOM from Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, III. The change of command ceremony also marked the beginning of Locklear’s retirement and end of active service.

"For more than three years, I've had the honor and privilege of leading the exceptional men and women of USPACOM. These volunteers are skilled professionals, dedicated to the defense of our nation, serving as superb ambassadors to represent the values and strengths that make our nation great. I want to formally thank our service members, civilians, and their families for their sacrifices." said Locklear during an all-hands call with his staff May 21.

Carter awarded Locklear the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership as the commander of USPACOM from 2012 to 2015 and thanked him for his service. He also thanked Locklear for his legacy of diplomacy and serving as a role model for ensuring America’s interests and commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. To improve on Locklear’s work towards regional security, Carter announced his plans for supporting security in the region and the South China Sea specifically.

“First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features. Second, and there should be no mistake about this, the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”

Carter concluded, “Finally, with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both international norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific's security architecture, and the regional consensus in favor of a non-coercive approach to this and other long-standing disputes.”

Harris pledged his commitment and acknowledged the many challenges in the region.

“There’s no shortage of challenges that confront us. From North Korea and their quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them intercontinentally, to China’s preposterous claims to and land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. To a resurgent Russia whose Pacific coastline boasts four strategic submarine and air bases and exceeds the distance from here to California. To the plight of Rohingya migrants in the Indian Ocean,” said Harris. “This is hard work, but this is what we live for.”

Harris was born in Yokosuka, Japan and raised in Tennessee and Florida. He graduated from U.S. Naval Academy and was designated as a naval flight officer in 1978. Harris was promoted to Admiral when he assumed command of USPACFLT in 2013. He is currently the highest-ranking Asian-American in the history of the U.S. Navy and the first to earn the rank of a four-star Admiral.
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