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NEWS | April 7, 2024

USINDOPACOM Commander Travels to New Zealand

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, visited New Zealand April 5-7, 2024, where he met with Air Marshal Kevin Short, New Zealand Defence Force Chief of Defence Force, Rear Adm. David Proctor, Chief of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and Amb. Thomas Stewart Udall, U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to New Zealand and to the Independent State of Samoa, along with other senior government and military officials.

The leaders affirmed the partnership between the U.S. and New Zealand. Discussions included their long-standing common interest in regional security and commitment to the rules-based international order.

In a ceremony during the visit, Aquilino presented Short with the Legion of Merit, the highest accolade the U.S. can bestow upon a foreign leader. Short distinguished himself through his pivotal role in expanding operations, training, programs, and interoperability between the two nations.

In the meeting between Aquilino and Proctor, the two examined security challenges that face the Oceania and Indo-Pacific regions. New Zealand has a mature network of mentors, instructors and technical advisors supporting a pan-regional security cooperation program. Therefore, enhancing bilateral combat effectiveness and compatibility through a strong U.S.-New Zealand partnership.

New Zealand regularly participates in U.S.-led exercises, including the upcoming 2024 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise. Aquilino and military leaders discussed the opportunity to expand cooperation and interoperability through the execution of RIMPAC.  

New Zealand and the U.S. stand as key regional partners and each visit, cooperative operation, and military exercise builds the trust and familiarity necessary to continue to provide peace and security to the Indo-Pacific.