Adm. Philip Davidson
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
Change of Command Ceremony
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
May 30, 2018
As Prepared for Delivery
Sergeant Major, break my flag.
Aloha, and good morning. Mr. Secretary, thank you for your inspirational words, and for your confidence and support.
Governors, Ambassadors, Ministers of Defense, Senators, Congresswoman, Representatives, Chairman, Chiefs of Defense, CNO, Admirals, Generals, distinguished guests: thank you for being here today. Your presence underscores the importance of Pacific Command and our mutual interest in the security of the Indo-Pacific region. Humbly, it also means the world to Harry, Bruni, Tracy and I.
I must recognize the outstanding men and women of the US Pacific Command; I’m in awe of your approach and your attitude. You proudly represent the very bedrock of our Nation’s security in the Indo-Pacific.
Your hard work and dedication – your service – whether lasting four years, or forty years, or even longer – matters when it comes to our security, our values, and our interests. I look forward to working with you on the many challenges here in the Indo-Pacific, and I am unquestionably humbled to be your Commander.
Tracy and I are thrilled to be back in Hawaii and back in the Pacific. I know from experience that there’s a tremendous bond between the community here on Oahu and all the U.S. servicemen and women who call this island home. It is more than a history of teamwork, friendship and mutual respect. It is ohana, indeed. Thank you for welcoming Tracy and I. I look forward to visiting our state and community leaders in the coming weeks.
I am also completely obligated to thank those that have shared this journey with Tracy and I – and provided mentorship and leadership to me over the past 36 years of Naval service. To Joe and Ellyn Dunford, and John and Dana Richardson especially, thank you for your confidence. To the Pacific Command components here today, Tracy and I are grateful for your example – and the teamwork to come.
For Harry and Bruni – to the both of you: tremendous work here at PACOM, and as a fellow citizen, thank you for your continuing lifetime of service, and thank you for such a supportive and enlightening turnover. Just remember, Harry: there’s only two answers that come to mind when you call from your next assignment – "it was my predecessor’s fault…" and "that’s service chief business, Harry."
Seriously, Tracy and I thank you and Bruni for the warm welcome and for your friendship.
I am also quite fortunate to have benefited from the tremendous leadership and mentorship of previous Pacific Command commanders and I would be remiss if I did not mention them today – even those that are not here. Thank you Tom Fargo, Dick Macke – both here today – as well as Joe Prueher, Timbo Keating, and Rat Willard. I’m indebted to all of them and forever grateful for their counsel and advice - over the last few months especially. I will be in touch.
And of course I owe a huge thank you to my wife, Tracy. This is house number 22 in our 36 years of marriage – our 4th house here in Hawaii alone. She continues her service even today, as a keen advocate for military families and family readiness. I can’t imagine continuing this adventure without you. Thank you, sweetheart.
Admiral Harris, and his extremely talented headquarters, have set the bar high and taken this command to new heights – all the while navigating an incredibly complex strategic and operational environment.
Ladies and gentlemen, the National Defense Strategy clearly recognizes that “the central challenge to our prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by… revisionist powers.”
And while China and Russia are the priority in that strategy, challenges by North Korea, Iran and violent extremists remain.
Four of the five principal challenges are found in this theater, and the fifth, Iran, has previously operated in the region with an out-of-area deployment to Southeast Asia.
For more than 70 years, the Indo-Pacific has been largely peaceful; in most ways, this was made possible by two things: the commitment of free nations to the free and open international order… underwritten by the credibility of the combat power within U.S. Pacific Command.
Today, North Korea represents the most pressing concern with its unlawful nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, and – at the same time – the most pressing opportunity.
China continues to improve both the size and the capability of its armed forces, in hopes to supplant the U.S. as the security partner of choice – not just in the Indo-Pacific region, but across the globe – and on its own terms.
Russia continues to modernize its military in all domains and seeks explicitly to undermine the international order and U.S. security guarantees.
The presence of ISIS in the region is real and highlights the need to continue to confront transnational terrorism in the region.
For Indo-Pacific Command, and for the allies, partners and friends assembled here today, INDOPACOM must continue our good work to:
- Defend against and deter our adversaries from attacking the United States, our citizens and interests abroad, as well as our allies in the region;
- Develop the relationships with our allies, partners and friends in the region to help advance peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific;
- Deliver the readiness necessary to ensure the freedom of the seas and skies, while producing a more lethal, integrated and interoperable combat force, and
- Defeat our adversaries – and those of our allies – should deterrence ever fail.
Lastly, I want to emphasize that our relationships matter. To our allies here in the Indo-Pacific: you will have no better ally. To our partners: I look forward to advancing our partnership in a way that serves our mutual interests. To our friends: our friendship is rock-solid. We must continue to work together; peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific relies directly on these bonds.
Mr. Secretary, ladies and gentlemen: I’m eager to get to work – thrilled to be here and humbled to be the Commander. I very much look forward to our many successes in the future. Thank you.