Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies 20th Anniversary
ADM Harry B. Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
“As prepared for delivery” on 6 October 2015
Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii
Fig (Lt. Gen. (R) Dan “Fig” Leaf), thank you for inviting me to speak today to honor the legacy of Senator Dan Inouye and recognize the continuing contribution of APCSS toward educating, connecting, and empowering security practitioners throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
And Ms. Inouye, it’s wonderful to see you ma’am. Your presence here today means so much to us, thank you.
I’m very privileged to be here to honor Senator Inouye and recognize the extraordinary work that the APCSS team has done over the past 20 years.
A few years before his death, Senator Inouye was interviewed by former Congressman Ron Sarasin who was writing an oral history of members of Congress. At the end of the interview, Congressman Sarasin asked Senator Inouye how he would like to be remembered. To which Senator Inouye replied, “This may sound foolish, but I just want people to know that I tried my best.”
Well, we got his best, and what he achieved during his lifetime of service is nothing short of extraordinary. We, the American people, have a debt which can never be repaid, and this renaming ceremony is but one small token of gratitude we can give a man to whom we owe so very much.
Now, anyone that has lived for an extended period of time in Hawaii knows Senator Inouye’s biography – it’s probably taught in in Hawaii schools before students learn their multiplication tables.
But I’d like to quickly recount some of his biography because what we commemorate here today is his life of service -- service to his country, service to his state, and service to his community.
Senator Inouye was born here in Hawaii and graduated from McKinley High School just down Kapiolani Boulevard.
There’s a big article on McKinley High in last Sunday’s paper – it’s 150 years old this year. After graduation, he served as a medical volunteer while he attended the University of Hawaii until the ban on Japanese American enlistment in the military was lifted.
After enlisting in the Army in 1943, Daniel Inouye served in Italy and France and was eventually promoted to Second Lieutenant. While leading an assault on a heavily-defended ridge near San Terenzo in Tuscany, Italy, Senator Inouye was shot multiple times and lost his right arm while neutralizing three machine gun nests.
While I won’t give you the play by play of the battle, I will say that Senator Inouye’s heroism that day is something you would only expect to see in a Hollywood movie – his actions even later earned him a Ben Thompson “badass of the week award” alongside Hannibal of Carthage and Leonidas of Sparta.
For his actions that day, Senator Inouye was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Medal of Honor.
And that’s just the beginning of Senator Inouye’s lifetime of service to his country. He returned to college where he changed his focus from medicine to political science and law. After graduation, he was elected to the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives, Hawaii territorial Senate, then, after statehood, to the U.S. House of Representatives, and eventually the U.S. Senate where he served for almost fifty years.
Now, leadership is a word much overworked these days, tossed about rather freely and applied pretty liberally, but in Senator Inouye’s case, it has real meaning. He made it his lifelong vocation to serve his state by leading in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Inouye served as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Indian Affairs Committee, Commerce Committee, and Appropriations Committee.
He dedicated himself entirely to improving Hawaii – from making sure underprivileged schools had funding to build a computer lab to securing resources for Hawaii’s highway system. And Senator Inouye was completely unapologetic for bringing resources back to Hawaii – he saw it as his sworn duty to better the lives of those throughout the state.
But Senator Inouye wasn’t only focused on domestic issues; he also recognized Hawaii’s strategic importance in the region. He sponsored bills to increase our military’s presence in Hawaii and funded APCSS to strengthen our partnerships and alliances throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Senator Inouye dedicated his life to ensuring America maintained a strong military as a deterrent to war. He often recounted that his experience fighting for his country showed him how fervently the U.S. should avoid war and that the best deterrent is a strong and capable military.
I believe Vice President Biden said it best…"Danny Inouye has a combination of courage, integrity and effectiveness that is awe-inspiring. With Danny, it is never about him -- it's always about his state, country, and military men and women. There is no man in the United States Senate I admire more than Dan Inouye."
And so now it’s over to the men and women of APCSS to continue to honor Senator Inouye’s legacy in the international arena. Today, the Indo-Asia-Pacific security environment is as complex as it has ever been.
From North Korea‘s unstable, aggressive leader who’s on a quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them internationally…to a resurgent, revanchist Russia, the security environment out here remains dynamic.
We’re attempting to build a mature relationship with China, but Beijing continues to act aggressively and coercively to assert its outrageous territorial claims in the South and East China Seas.
I believe the solutions to these challenges -- which directly impact the stability and security of the region -- are not primarily military in nature. But they do require a deep understanding of the region and regional security to address these challenges effectively.
APCSS plays a vital role in developing these solutions. As with so many challenges, the answers begin with education and understanding. APCSS has become the region’s “go to” venue for resolution of the region’s most difficult and complex security challenges.
APCSS is increasingly playing a greater role in developing solutions to these challenges. Because of APCSS executive education program, over 9,000 alumni throughout the theatre have a shared understanding of the region’s challenges and how to improve regional security.
For the past 20 years, the partnership between PACOM and APCSS has resulted in significant benefits for Hawaii, the U.S., and the region. APCSS is an integral part of PACOM’s Theater Campaign Plan by educating Indo-Asia-Pacific security professionals on a wide range of topics which underpin regional security. As an academic institution, APCSS gives PACOM access to dialogues and activities focused on regional security that are not inherently military in nature. And PACOM gives APCSS access to the latest US military thinking on matters in the region.
During times of significant importance, APCSS is the organization of choice to provide support. For example, APCSS facilitated the drafting of the Philippine Bayanihan Peace Plan and Agreement and is assisting the government of Laos in preparation to be next year’s ASEAN chair. While bilateral security agreements have been the firm foundation of the region’s security, the future is one of multilateralism. APCSS focus on regional cooperation and tangible outcomes is critical to our ability to work closely with our friends and allies. It leverages the unique attributes of Hawaii, some may say the westernmost edge of the 50 United States and the easternmost edge of Asia, to bring together what I call “Strategic Aloha” and the Gateway to the Rebalance.”
All of this was made possible by Senator Inouye’s extraordinary vision and leadership. I’m truly honored to be a part of this ceremony and I look forward to the next chapter as we work together to maintain the stability and security of the region. Thank you.