Admiral John C. Aquilino
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
INDOPACOM Change of Command Ceremony
Kilo 8 Pier, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
30 April 2021
As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here. You honor each of us with your presence today.
Please bear with me, but there are some important thank you’s that must be said.
Secretary Austin and Chairman Milley, I am honored and humbled to take on this important position during a most consequential time. Thank you for your support and confidence in me.
Governor Ige, Former Governor Ariyoshi, the Hawaii delegation, Mayor Blangiardi, and Hawaii leadership, we are so appreciative for all you do for our service members here in Hawaii.
Thank you to ambassadors and our esteemed diplomatic and consular corps for all their dedicated work.
General Won, General Yamazaki, Admiral Noonan, Admiral Liu, all representing their Chiefs of Defense, and my head of navy counterparts – thank you for our frank discussions and friendship.
To my Component Commander Battle buddies, thanks for the teamwork and continuous support in everything we have done.
To my Navy family far and wide specifically the Pacific Fleet team. There are none better, and I am in awe of the amazing effort put forth every day to achieve our goals. I can’t thank you enough.
To the Kapoi family, the Agustin family, and to my extended family, Joy, Matt, Laura, and Marissa, your presence here today means a great deal and we can’t thank you enough for sharing today with us.
To Admiral Davidson and Tracy, thank you for your lifelong service to our nation. For your strategic vision for the region, and for your leadership and mentorship. We are all better because of you.
Last and certainly not least, thanks to my amazing family led by my wife, Laura, and my daughters Jessica and Lisa. Like every service members family, they have endured much personal sacrifice, I love you and I’m so proud of you.
I stand here today only because of the great men and women with whom I have had the privilege to serve alongside and those who I have learned from over these many years.
I have needed a lot of help, so let me give you some names and you will understand what I mean: Admirals Moran, Gortney, Harris, Fargo, Zlatoper, Keating, Locklear, Fallon, Macke, Richardson, Harvey, Generals Odierno, Votel, CQ Brown, and Neller to name just a few. Thank you for your mentorship and friendship over the years. It has helped prepared me to lead this theater at this important time.
For more than 75 years, the U.S. partnerships with like-minded allies and partners have created an environment where all nations could thrive and prosper.
The foundation of this environment is a rules-based international order, in which all nations, large and small, have an equal voice for peaceful resolution of disputes and differences of opinion in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Today, this environment is being challenged.
The Indo-Pacific is the most consequential region for America's future, hosts our greatest security challenge, and remains the priority theater for the United States.
Mr. Secretary, as you have directed, Indo-Pacom remains committed to defending our nation. We are committed to strengthening our relationships with our allies and partners. We are committed to providing the deterrence needed to prevent great power conflict and should it be directed, to fight tonight and win.
We will compete to achieve our national interests, cooperate where we can, and confront where we must to ensure we maintain a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
When Admiral Chester Nimitz took over CINCPAC December 17, 1941 he humbly captured the gravity of the moment by simply writing to his Boss, “It is a great responsibility, but I shall do my utmost to meet it.”
A copy of Nimitz’ handwritten quote adorns nearly every desk in the Pacific Fleet Headquarters to this day, reminding us of the magnitude and enduring significance of this theater.
As I assume command of INDOPACOM, Mr. Secretary, you have my full and unwavering commitment to take on this great responsibility, and I, too, will do my best to meet it.