An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Nov. 29, 2016

Pacom Chief Praises Stronger Indo-Asia-Pacific Maritime Partnerships

By Amaani Lyle DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2016 — As U.S. forces strengthen ties in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the island nation of Sri Lanka has emerged as a significant contributor to regional stability and security, U.S. Pacific Command’s commander said yesterday at the Galle Dialogue 2016 conference in Sri Lanka’s capital city of Colombo.

The first American four-star officer to visit Sri Lanka in almost a decade, Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. said at the two-day international maritime conference that he was pleased to see a deepened military-to-military relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States.

“To continue along a prosperous path, we must expand partnerships among like-minded nations to uphold the rules-based global operating system,” Harris said. “This helps build what [Defense Secretary Ash] Carter calls a ‘principled security network.’”

The network, Harris explained, ensures nations of all sizes have not only maritime access, but equal access to the other shared domains, including air, space, and cyber, within a system that has been underwriting prosperity throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific for the last seven decades.

“The global operating system is a rising tide that can lift all nations who choose to enter it and to maintain it,” the admiral said.

Primed to become the hub of Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka has adopted maritime models from the U.S. Marine Corps, while the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived on the USS Somerset to train newly-minted Sri Lankan marines, Harris noted.

These developments illustrate Harris’s use of the term “Indo-Asia-Pacific” vice “Asia-Pacific” in describing the region.

“Indo-Asia-Pacific more accurately captures the fact that the Indian and Pacific Oceans are the economic lifeblood linking the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Australia, Northeast Asia, Oceania, and the United States together,” the admiral said. “Oceans that once were physical and psychological barriers that kept us apart are now maritime superhighways that bring us together.”

Need for Regional Stability, Security

But, Harris said, a region without stability and security is hollow. “Peace and prosperity,” he said, “are made possible through adherence to the principles that are the foundation of the global operating system -- freedom of navigation and overflight for all civilian and military vessels, unimpeded lawful commerce, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.”

Harris characterized the long-standing success of those principles as free from abstraction or the whims of any singular nation. “They are not privileges to be granted or withdrawn,” he said.

The admiral cited U.N. peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Mali, the Central African Republic and South Sudan as examples of promoting navigational freedom, which is especially important in light of the U.S. Navy ships’ first port visits to Sri Lanka since 2011.

“This validates the strengthening of military ties -- a benchmark event in the Sri Lanka-U.S. bilateral relationship,” he said.

Harris also recounted the USS Somerset and embarked Marines’ theater security cooperation exchange with the Sri Lankan navy, which he said focused on honing basic military skills and small-boat operations that could support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

“These engagements are clear demonstrations of our commitment to Sri Lanka and to this region,” the admiral said.

Ultimately, he said, expanded cooperation the United States and Sri Lanka will benefit both countries in important and meaningful ways.

Maritime Security

Sri Lanka and the United States, as well as India and Australia, rightfully take maritime security in the Indian Ocean seriously as a result of grave regional challenges such as piracy, terrorism, illegal trafficking, and other threats to stability, Harris said.

“I’m particularly concerned about [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s] influence in this region,” the admiral said. “We must also be ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and ensure unencumbered and safe navigation in the region’s vital shipping lanes.”

To gain maritime domain awareness requires an accurate operating picture and interoperable, shared information between navies and law enforcement, at both the national and regional levels, Harris said.

“This common operating picture will help us understand what those many vessels at sea are doing -- whether they are military or merchant ships lawfully operating in the exclusive economic zones, or commercial vessels potentially engaged in drug smuggling, illegal fishing or trafficking in persons,” the admiral said.

Harris acknowledged that building maritime domain awareness in the region will be a difficult -- but worthy -- task. And, as Pacom turns 70 years old Jan. 1, the admiral reflected on the command’s storied history.

“Since the end of World War II, we’ve represented America by fostering strategic partnerships with like-minded countries to enhance collective security, and we are strongly committed to doing this with Sri Lanka,” Harris said. “The Indian Ocean matters to the United States, Sri Lanka matters to the United States, and I believe that the United States matters to Sri Lanka.”

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
X
359,915
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
Readout of National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s Meetings with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand Srettha Thavisin and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara
Jan. 26, 2024 - National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met today in Bangkok, Thailand with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand...

USS Antietam departs Yokosuka after nearly 11 years of forward-deployed service
240126-N-YQ181-1111 YOKOSUKA, Japan (Jan. 26, 2024) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) departs Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Jan. 26, 2024. USS Antietam departed Yokosuka for the final time before transiting to its new homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as part of a planned rotation of forces in the Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Askia Collins)
Jan. 26, 2024 - The Ticonderoga-class guided missile-cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) departed Yokosuka, Japan, on Jan. 26 to transit to its new homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as part of a planned rotation of forces in the Pacific...

Regional Ambassadors Conference 2024
Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, hosts the Regional Ambassadors Conference (RAC), at the USINDOPACOM headquarters in Hawaii on Jan. 22-24. The RAC brought together more than 30 ambassadors, military representatives and foreign policy advisors, for discussions aimed at enhancing U.S. interagency collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region. USINDOPACOM is committed to working with Allies and partners toward the shared vision of a secure, rules-based, and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Riel)
Jan. 26, 2024 - Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, hosts the Regional Ambassadors Conference (RAC), at the USINDOPACOM headquarters in Hawaii on Jan. 22-24. The RAC brought together more than 30 ambassadors,...

35th Fighter, Fighter Generation Squadron hone agility capabilities
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 35th Fighter Squadron takes off for agile combat employment mission at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Jan.19, 2024. The 35th FS and 35th Fighter Generation Squadron members participated in an out-and-back mission with Kadena Air Base to practice ACE principles. The 8th Fighter Wing routinely trains ACE concepts, aligning with Pacific Air Forces’ warfighting priorities and keeping pace with evolving threats. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Earick)
Jan. 25, 2024 - 8th Fighter Wing Airmen and F-16 assets honed agile combat employment capabilities, conducting an out-and-back mission with the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Jan 18...

Exercise on Humphreys airfield tests emergency responders
First responders conduct a pre-accident drill upon a Chinook on Desiderio Army Airfield, Jan. 23, 2024 on U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys. The installation conducts the drill on a regular basis and tests rescue and recovery operations.(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Johnny Rodriguez.)
Jan. 25, 2024 - On the ice-cold tarmac of Camp Humphreys’ Desiderio Army Airfield, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter landed, while inside seven Soldiers staged themselves as mock victims of a crash, kicking off the second quarter pre-accident...