ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
Before the Senate Armed Services Committee
2016 February 23
Thank you Chairman McCain, Senator Reed, and distinguished members. It's my honor to appear once again before this committee. Before I begin, on behalf of all the men and women of U.S. Pacific Command, I'd like to wish Senator McCaskill a speedy and full recovery.
I'm pleased to be here with General Scaparrotti to discuss how PACOM is advancing America's interests across the vast Indo-Asia-Pacific. I request, sir, that my written posture statement be submitted for the record.
Since taking command of PACOM last May, I've had the extraordinary privilege of leading the 400,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians serving our nation. These dedicated men and women, and their families, are doing an amazing job and I'm proud to serve alongside them. I'd like to briefly highlight a few regional issues since I last testified before this committee 5 months ago.
As China continues its pattern of destabilizing militarization of the South China Sea, we resumed our freedom of navigation operations there -- a waterway vital to America's prosperity where $5.3 trillion in trade traverses each year.
General Scaparrotti and I remain fully aligned in dealing with North Korea's recent underground nuclear test followed by a ballistic missile launch.
A revanchist Russia is revitalizing its ability to execute long-range strategic patrols in the Pacific, to include the basing of its newest strategic ballistic missile submarine and last month's bomber flights around Japan.
Recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh and Indonesia underscore the fact that violent Islamic extremism is a global concern that must be crushed.
We've continued to strengthen our alliances and partnerships. Japan's Peace and Security legislation authorizing limited collective self-defense will take effect this year. This legislation and the revised Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation will significantly increase Japan's ability to work with us.
Thanks to the great leadership of General Scaparrotti, South Korea and the United States have taken a strong and unified stance to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
In the face of recent North Korean aggression, PACOM hosted a tri-CHOD meeting between U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Dunford, Japanese Chairman Admiral Kawano and South Korea Chairman General Lee. Tri-lateral cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States is a priority, and I'm doing everything I can to enhance it.
Our alliance with the Philippines took an important step forward when the Philippine Supreme Court recently upheld the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or E.D.C.A., which will provide significant partnership and access benefits. I'm also excited about our burgeoning relationship with India, where I will visit next week. As the world's two largest democracies, we are uniquely poised to help bring greater security and prosperity to the entire region. Two visionary policies are now coinciding, as the United States "Rebalances" west to the Indo-Asia-Pacific and India implements its "Act East" policy. Last October's Malabar exercise between India, Japan and the United States shows the security interconnectedness of the Indian Ocean, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean.
I rely heavily on Australia -- not only for its advanced military capabilities across all domains -- but, importantly, for Australia's warfighting experience and leadership in operations around the world.
These examples clearly demonstrate to me that the United States is the security partner of choice in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. It's also why I believe that our strategic Rebalance has taken hold.
Given that four of the five strategic problem sets identified by Secretary Carter -- China, North Korea, Russia and ISIL -- are in our region, I'd say that we can't Rebalance fast enough.
But there's more work to do and we must not lose the momentum. So I ask this committee to support continued investment in future capabilities. I need weapons systems of increased lethality that go faster, go further, and are more survivable. If funding uncertainties continue, the U.S. will experience reduced warfighting capabilities, so I urge Congress to repeal sequestration.
Finally, I'd like to thank this committee and Congress for your enduring support to PACOM and to the men and women in uniform, our civilian teammates, and our families. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.