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 : Speeches / Testimony
NEWS | Feb. 25, 2016

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Adm. Harris in the Pentagon Briefing Room

By ADM. HARRY B. HARRIS, JR. USPACOM Public Affairs Office

 Presenter: Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

Department of Defense - Pentagon Briefing Room

“Remarks as Delivered” on February 25, 2016

ADMIRAL HARRY B. HARRIS JR.: All right. So, it's good to see all of you.

I've interacted with some of you before, Mr. Gertz good to see you. And so, I've got a little bit of a statement here to read, and I'll go through that. And then we'll get to questions, okay?

If that -- if that works for you all. If it doesn't work for you all, then we'll try to make it work anyway. (Laughter.)

Yeah. So, again, good morning, and thanks for this opportunity today. This is the first time that I have briefed in-person here in the Pentagon press room, and I've been told I should take questions for about 30 minutes, so I've tailored my opening statement to 29. (Laughter.)

So, if that works for you all, I think we'll be all right.

So, after starting our current, round-the-world trip that I'm on now, I started it by visiting Japan last week, and I've spent several days here in Washington, testifying, as many of you know, before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees.

I head to India on Monday, so I very much appreciate the opportunity to go on the record with all of you today about America's rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

So, our strategic rebalance, in my opinion is real and being realized. I firmly believe that the U.S. is now the security partner of choice in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. And given that four of the five strategic problem sets, identified by Secretary Carter -- that is China, North Korea, Russia and ISIL -- given that four of them are in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, I’d say that we can't rebalance fast enough.

I know it might be difficult to see from the shores of the Potomac here, but the United States is a Pacific nation, it is a Pacific power and it is a Pacific leader. And what happens in our theater matters greatly to our national security and our prosperity.

PACOM's area of responsibility covers half the globe, from polar bears to penguins, and from Hollywood to Bollywood. Speaking of which, I look forward to speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi next week.

I'm excited about our growing relationship with India -- which I've made a priority line of effort at PACOM. 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 it Act East policy initiative.

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.

So, as the Indo-Pacific nation, Australia certainly understands this, so I want to recognize yesterdays' release of Australia's defense white paper.

I personally welcome Australia's commitment to sustain its investment in defense, and contribute towards a rules-based international order.

As I said during testimony of the last two days, I rely heavily on Australia for its leadership and advanced military capabilities across all warfighting domains.

I’ll do everything I can to work with our Australian allies to help meet our strategic objectives.

So whether it's engaging Australia, India, Japan or any one of the 36 nations in our theater, the nearly 400,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen and civilians of PACOM are protecting America's interests. These dedicated men and women and their families are doing an amazing job, and I can't thank them enough.

I'd also like to thank you, the members of the press corps, for your service to our nation and your nations. Freedom of the press underpins America's vibrant democracy, so I've done my best to engage the media because I think senior military leaders have an obligation to ensure the American public knows how we're spending their tax dollars and how we're caring for their sons and daughters.

As I continue to engage the press while at PACOM, I'll do my best to be as forthright as possible while letting you know when I can't be, and that's usually because of classification or future operations, or difficult questions.

So now that I've answered all your questions about China, I'll open up to other questions. (Laughter.) So because I don't know many in this room, I've asked Darryn James here to call on you and we'll go from there. And I'll write the notes down as we go.

STAFF: (off mic)

Q: Thank you, Admiral. Lita Baldor with the Associated Press. Speaking of China, the -- you've talked a bit and been pretty forthcoming about the need to do freedom of navigation operations in the region, I'm wondering if you can be a little more specific and talk about how frequently these need to be done, do you think, in order to have some impact. And have you seen any impact at all on -- from China on any of the recent freedom of navigation efforts? And what do you think the U.S. has got to do in order to have some sort of impact on China's activities?

ADM. HARRIS: Okay, Ms. Baldor. If I get that right, there's three questions embedded in there, so let me -- let me try to start from the -- from your first question on frequency. Frequency gets into that issue I talked about in future operations, so I don't want to get into the frequency except to say that I believe that we need to do them and do them on a regular basis. I talked to the -- yesterday and the day before about the need to do freedom of navigation operations in the -- in the maritime and air spaces in the South China Sea. This is nothing new for the United States. We've been doing freedom of navigation operations around the world for decades, certainly as long as I've been in the Navy, which is a long time.

So -- but I -- but I think it's important that we do them. I’ve talked about that. And we'll continue to do them and we'll do them with increasing complexity as we move forward in these kinds of operations.

As to the question of the -- of the impact, I think the impact of these operations are seen in China's public statements after the operations themselves, and the impact is felt in the region as we receive many expressions of support from the countries in the region. So I'll leave it at that for the impact.

And regarding the question of what we should do in the future, you know, the military is only one part of a -- of America's policy choices. I think, though, that in my arena, what we need to do, we need to continue to maintain credible combat power, we need to maintain our network of like-minded nations, and that's an important piece.

I think we need to, and we must, continue to exercise our rights of freedom of navigation in international waters and airspace, and encourage others -- encourage that like-minded network of nations to do the same.

And I think we must use diplomacy to influence China. And finally, we have to ensure that we continue to modernize that force, in order to go back to the first element of maintaining a credible combat power.

Q: Thanks so much. My name is Atsushi Okudera, from Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Thanks so much for doing this.

To follow -- following up that -- the South China Sea issue, you mentioned yesterday additional naval assets will be deployed in the region -- for example, more destroyers or submarines.

So first of all, could you give us a little bit more -- a timeline when, and what kind of asset are you going to deploy to the region, and the purpose? Now, what kind of role these deployment could play to sustain the peace and stability?

And on the -- (inaudible) -- as you know, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in -- in this town right now, and he was talking about -- this morning, about the --


-- right to defend for themselves. And he said -- you know, Vietnam military being deployed, a lot of airplanes and guns and ships in the region. That's why China has to -- has to defend themselves, and this is why the -- they have a right to defend, or something like that.

What do you think about this logic here? Thanks so much.

ADM. HARRIS: Okay. So -- so let me -- let me see if I can work through this, Mr. Okudera.

So on the -- on the -- the timeline, or the kinds of ships that we have, we maintain almost a continuous presence of naval ships in the South China Sea region, and -- and we fly regularly -- we fly regular surveillance patrols in the region as well. So -- so we're there all the time, I would say.

The type of assets are -- you know, I'll leave that to the naval component -- the Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Seventh Fleet, to make that decision. So far, they have deployed destroyers, DDGs and cruisers in that -- in that water space, as well as a littoral combat ship.

So I think these, or any -- any mix of these is -- is a good combination of ships to have in the area. And we also bring carriers through the region -- carrier strike groups, and all that.

So it's really all the mix of ships that Seventh Fleet has at his disposal, that they'll put in the region in the South China Sea. And generally -- generally, there's one there all the time.

So -- and the role they -- they play is -- is to -- is presence operations. Remember, they're -- they're there to do presence operations and, when called upon, we task them to do freedom of navigation and other specialized operations. So I'll leave it at that.

Regarding the right to defend itself, every country has a right to defend itself and its borders. The -- the -- the issue, though, is that -- that we believe that the South China Sea is international waters, and not -- and the United States takes no position on the sovereignty of any of the features in the South China Sea.

So that's where the -- where the -- the -- the difference in opinion exists between us and China.

STAFF: Phil?

Q: Yeah. I've been covering Asia for quite a while, and I've detected a noticeable shift in public statements on China -- first, that DNI Clapper referred to it as a regional threat, along with Russia. Your candid testimony this week said China is seeking to control the South China Sea. And then, even today, the defense secretary talked about an aggressive China.

What’s happened differently -- what are the Chinese doing differently? And is this changing the pivot to Asia, and will it be sped up, will it be upgraded?

ADM. HARRIS: Okay, I just -- I just had to write these down, so I don't -- I don't ask you to go back to you again here.

So, on the first issue of what’s changed, vis-a-vis the statements that are being made, I've been consistent since I returned to the Pacific in 2013, as a Pacific fleet commander.

If you go back to -- to my early statements, in even my change of command to assume the Pacific Fleet back in 2013, I've been consistent in my articulation of my concerns in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, including China.

So, my statements haven't changed, I don't think. So, I think I've been consistent.

In regards to the other statements made by other folks, I -- you know, I would just say you should ask them if -- you know, in any perception you have that the statements have changed or become more aggressive.

With regard to what China is doing differently, over the past few years, what they've done is reclaimed almost 3,000 acres of bases -- military bases -- military bases, in my opinion, in the South China Sea.

They -- you know, as I said before the Senate two days ago, and the House yesterday, I am of the opinion that they are militarizing the South China Sea. And when they add their advanced fighters to Woody Island, and when -- up in the Paracels -- and when they put their advanced missile systems on the Paracels, and when they build three 10,000 foot runways in the Spratlys on the basis that they've reclaimed -- when they do all of that, they're changing the operational landscape in the South China Sea. So, that is what’s changed. The United States and our patrols -- military patrols, air and maritime in the South China Sea haven't really changed. We have a consistent presence in the Western Pacific, and we have had that for decades.

So, I would say it's China that has changed its behavior.

What else has changed over the past couple of years is the -- is the attitude of the other nations in the region to China and to us. And I believe, today, that the United States is -- is and is becoming the security partner of choice of many of these countries, when before, they might not have been so -- either overt or inclined to our position.

So, I think -- I think those are the things that have changed. And regarding your last issue of the pivot and whether we're going to speed it up, you know, there are four components of the pivot. There's the economic, political, military and diplomatic.

And I've always said that the most visible component of that is the military, because you can see an aircraft carrier, or joint strike fighter, or all of the other things that we're sending out to the Pacific.

But the most important component is the economic component. You know, it's really about -- about that, and the rebalance as a whole, you know, I get asked all the time -- and I'll ask myself, the question, you know, is it about China?

And the answer is, it's not about China. It's about us, the United States, what we value, what we hold dear.

But as far as the -- speeding it up, I mean, our military goal -- which is what I'm responsible for, and the military piece of the rebalance is, you know, the Navy and the Air Force want to be about -- want to get to the level of about 60 percent of their forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific by 2020.

They're already there almost. You know, the Navy is at about 58 percent now. So there's -- the speeding up part of it, I think we're proceeding apace, it's a well-thought-out strategy in my opinion, and I think we're moving right along the proper timeline.

Q: A quick follow-up. Will you do FONOP operations with international partners, say, the Australians or Japanese?

ADM. HARRIS: You know, I'm not going to talk about that. So thank you.

STAFF: (off mic)

Q: A follow-up, Admiral. We've been hearing these dire warnings about China militarizing the South China Sea for months now, yet the U.S. military has not stopped China. What's holding you back?

ADM. HARRIS: I'm sorry. I don't understand the question. What -- I mean, we're doing the freedom of navigation operations. Nothing is holding me back.

Q: But you're not stopping China from militarizing these islands.

ADM. HARRIS: Well, you'd have to ask China why they're not stopping. I mean, the military component is just one tool in the -- in the tool chest that our national leadership has, so, you know, I think we're doing what we have to do in the military sense.

There are -- there are many other components of national power that can be and probably will be brought to bear in this.

Q: But the last few years, nothing has stopped China from militarizing the islands. What can the U.S. military do to stop China from militarizing these islands?

ADM. HARRIS: Well, you're asking -- you know, what can the military do? You know, the military does one thing really well, and I don't know that we want to -- that you would advocate that we would do that to stop China. But the military is a tool in the tool chest of options that the president has, and my part of it is to -- is to -- you know, to execute that part of the -- of that component that our national command authorities want me to do.

STAFF: Gordon?

Q: Admiral, two questions if I may. One is to kind of follow up on Lita's first question. I know you don’t want to talk about future operations with regard to the FONOP, but can you address the idea of -- if doing more of these operations would help send a stronger signal to the Chinese and kind of help us understand your thinking in terms of if more is provocative or less or kind of how you manage that balance of not being too provocative --


Q: And the second question is just you mentioned the white paper of the Australians. Can you share with us your view of what a partnership between Australia and Japan in terms of replacing the submarines, what kind of value that would have.

ADM. HARRIS: Mr. Lubold, let me -- let me get at first -- first on doing more FONOPs. So we've been doing FONOPs in the -- across the world and certainly in the South China Sea for a long time, but in the -- in the current world, I guess, we've done two. So more frequently would -- you know, I mean, I'm not sure what more frequently would mean when your reference point is two. You know, it's better than a single reference point, but not that much better.

So I would say that we're going to do more and we'll do them with some frequency, and to extrapolate what I said at the beginning, you know, I think we have to continue to do these kinds of operations to exercise our freedom of navigation in airspace in the international space. So, you know, more is better, is good, I think.

On the second question of Australia's submarine buy, I don't have a position on whether Australia should buy a Japanese, German or French submarine. You know, that's up to Australia to buy -- to make that decision.

But I welcome, as I said during my opening statement, Australia's commitment to increase and modernize its military across the board.

Q: Phil Stewart from Reuters.


Q: Phil Stewart from Reuters.


Q: Does China's economic difficulties or challenges right now make you more or less concerned about its activities in the South China Sea?

ADM. HARRIS: Mr. Stewart, I -- I think that -- that their economic difficulties today are -- don't cause me great -- you know, they cause me concern in a general sense, but I don't see the linkage between their economic difficulties today and their activities in the South China Sea today.

You know, it's not a case of, their economy is crumbling, so they have to do something else diversionary, or whatever. I don't see that today. Certainly a possibility, and we're looking out for it, but -- but I don't see that today.

Q: And do you see any kind of long-term changes -- maybe --you know, increases in -- you know, attempts at nationalism, or other kind of changes in China that would be more worrying because of the economic --

ADM. HARRIS: It's -- it's potential, I suppose. But -- you know, I'm not sure how you get more -- how you -- you mean nationalism in the sense of the -- whipping up nationalist fervor.

I thought you meant nationalizing industry, which is kind of hard to do in a communist country -- hard to do more. It could be. But I'm not sanguine enough to make that statement today.

STAFF: Yes, ma'am?

Q: Thank you, Admiral. Tara Copp, with Stars and Stripes. Just a follow-up on, I think, Gordon's question, and Lita's, for doing more FONOPs. Is there any sort of resource constraint that you're facing as far as not having enough ships at your disposal to be able to have that presence?

And then I have one follow-up. On the South China Sea -- you know, despite the FONOPs, China continues to put more and more advanced weaponry on these developed islands. At what point does it become too risky to put, say, a carrier out there because of the weaponry on the islands?

ADM. HARRIS: Okay. Ms. Copp, on -- on whether I have enough ships to do FONOPs, clearly I have enough ships to do FONOPs.

On the issue of when does it get too dangerous to put a ship in the South China Sea because of the weaponry that China is putting on their islands -- you know, we're not at war with China.

So if -- you know, there -- there -- the reach of -- of some of their weapons is increased if they put them on their -- islands, but we are still operating within some of their weapons envelopes today.

And so -- you know, in -- in -- short of war, I'm aware of the threat. I'll pay attention to the threat. But that is not going to prevent us from flying, sailing or operating wherever international law allows.

Q: Thank you, Admiral. Janie Park with USA Journal -- Korea-U.S. news.

Recently a North Korean army headquarters officially announced that -- attack to U.S. and South Korea. How do you response on this? And what contingency plan does the U.S. have?

ADM. HARRIS: Ms. Park, great question, and -- so I testified yesterday and the day before yesterday with General Scaparrotti, the U.S. Forces Korea commander, and I think that the -- the key to North Korea's provocations is a consistent and a consistently strong U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance.

And -- and -- and I'm pleased that the alliance is as strong as it is, and I think that's a tribute to our Ambassador Lippert, General Scaparrotti, and their South Korean counterparts.

Q: General Scaparrotti, yesterday at his testimony at Congress, he led the deployment of the THAAD missile into South Korea. But what would happen if the Chinese continue to oppose this?

ADM. HARRIS: Well, I mean, that's a question for both South Korea and the alliance. Because we haven't agreed -- neither South Korea nor the United States have not agreed to put a THAAD in Korea.

What we have agreed to do is consult about it, to think about it, talk about it and discuss it.

So, that -- the decision to discuss it is not necessarily a decision to do it, not yet. So, we're having the discussions now, and we'll see how they turn out.

But I think that -- my opinion, that China's interference in a decision that's to be made between alliance partners -- the Republic of Korea and the United States -- their interference in that process is preposterous, especially when you consider that THAAD is not a threat to China.

But it's there in order to defend the Americans that are in Korea, their families and the Koreans. And if China wanted to exert a lot of influence on somebody to prevent THAAD from being considered going into Korea, then they should exert that influence on North Korea.

Q: So, you say that the THAAD system is used for the defense --

ADM. HARRIS: The THAAD is there for the defense of the Republic of Korea, it's citizens and the Americans that are based there.

STAFF: Mike.

Q: Admiral, hi. My -- (inaudible) -- nice to see you.

ADM. HARRIS: Good to see you again.

Q: Going back to the missiles part, one thing you just said was that you already operate within the operational reach. So, what is, then, in your opinion, the strategic or tactical importance of what China is doing with these islands, in terms of putting the missile -- (inaudible) -- stuff like that, there. What's -- so, how does that change the game for you, then?

ADM. HARRIS: Well, Mr. (inaudbile), I'll tell you that if China continues to arm all of the bases they've reclaimed in the South China Sea, as I said, they will change the operational landscape in the region.

And short of war with the United States, they can become -- they can rise to the level of having operation control, tactical control of the waterways and airways in the South China Sea, which today, involves about $5.3 trillion of trade, over a billion of which -- over a trillion of which is destined for the United States.

There are enormous I.T. infrastructure in the -- in the undersea cables in the South China Sea. It's a principal shipping lane, as we've discussed.

And I think that, again, short of war with the United States, China will exercise de facto control of the South China Sea, if they are -- if they continue to outfit the bases that they've reclaimed there.

Q: Thank you.

STAFF: Luis.

Q: Admiral, Luis Martinez with ABC News.

Following the recent North Korean missile test and nuclear test, you conducted show of force operations over the peninsula -- or South Korea.

What is the influence of those operations on North Korea? Do you think -- do you think they actually influence their thinking? And has any thought been given to moving some of these platforms permanently into South Korea?

ADM. HARRIS: Mr. Martinez, I think that -- that the shows of force are precisely aimed at North Korea, and I think they do have an impact. And what they demonstrate to North Korea is despite their provocations, that the United States and the Republic of Korea alliance is strong, and it's not strong in just a theoretical sense, it's strong in a -- in a practical and operational sense.

You know, when we fly these aircraft and they're met and escorted by South Korean fighters and that stuff, it really, I believe, has an impact and it demonstrates to North Korea that our alliance is strong and vibrant.

Q: And moving some of these platforms probably to South Korea?

ADM. HARRIS: That's a discussion with the South Koreans, and I'm not going to get into whether we're going to move platforms there or not.

STAFF: (off mic)

Q: Thank you. My is -- (inaudible) -- Jiji Press, a Japanese news agency. And I have one question, actually two questions over the South China Sea. And the first one is to -- (inaudible) -- the militarization in the South China Sea, what do you expect partners and allies in the region to do with the United States? Do you welcome the idea of doing joint patrols with India or -- (inaudible) -- near China's fake island in South China Sea?

And the other is, are you concerned about the possibility of China to implement or impose ADIZ in the future?

ADM. HARRIS: So regarding patrols by other nations, I welcome patrols by any nation in the South China Sea because the South China Sea is international water and airspace. With regard to ADIZ, or air defense and identification zone, I am concerned about the possibility that China might declare an ADIZ.

I'm concerned about it from the sense that I would find that to be destabilizing and provocative. We will -- we would ignore it just as we've ignored the ADIZ that they put in place in the East China Sea. And just a few days ago, Secretary Kerry called for China to not declare an ADIZ. So let's see -- let's give China a chance here and see if they'll opt for a more stabilizing, less tense situation or whether they'll opt to be a provocative destabilizing influence in the region.

STAFF: (off mic)

Q: Hi admiral. Courtney Kube with NBC News. You said a couple of times within the past few days that the freedom of navigation operations need to be increasingly complex and more regular. What do you mean by increasingly complex? You didn't want to talk about other nations being involved, but what exactly do you mean?

And then when you say more regularly, are you -- are you saying that you don't think there have -- do you think there have not been enough recently? There have only been two with this build-up in – of the Chinese recently. Have you been -- have you recommended more freedom of navigation operations than have occurred recently? Have they not been approved by Washington?

ADM. HARRIS: Well Ms. Kube, let me -- let me start by saying that, you know, my recommendations are private, and I'm not going to, you know, share with you-all what my recommendations are to the chain of command.

With regard to the interval, you know, as I said, we've only had two of these new type of operations recently, and that means only -- there's only one interval. So, you know, it's -- again, it's a small data point.

But I would advocate for continued Freedom of Navigation operations. And I think that's what I said at the beginning.

With regard to complexity, I think there are many things we could do in terms of increasing the complexity of these operations, such as picking other formations to go through, to go near, and the like.

So, the first one we did with the USS Lassen was in the Spratlys, the second one we did was up in the Paracels. I mean, you know -- and we can continue to increase that complexity and level of operation, in my opinion.

Q: So, you say you would have additional assets, so several ships and aircraft up at the same time, or?

ADM. HARRIS: They're all -- those are all potentials.

Q: You think -- but you think there should be more frequent intervals of them going forward?

ADM. HARRIS: I think we should continue to do them at some interval. I'm satisfied with the interval that we're doing them now.

But the important thing is that we continue to do them. We must exercise our Freedom of Navigation, or we risk losing it. In my opinion.

STAFF: Tony.

Q: Sir, Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg News. Two quick questions.

Back to the Australia submarine competition. In their white paper, they say they want submarines that are with a high degree of interoperabilty with United States vessels.

Given that criteria, in your best military judgment, cost and schedule irrespective, which of those vessels would you prefer -- Japanese, French, or German -- in terms of interoperability?

ADM. HARRIS: Yeah. We've operated -- you know, I was fortunate enough, a while back, to command the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean NATO command.

So, I have worked with all of these submarines, both the French and German submarines in Europe, and the Japanese submarines in the Pacific.

So, that decision is Australia's alone to make. Depending -- and it's based on, among other things, you know, discounting cost and schedule, on all the other factors that those countries and companies have provided Australia.

So, you know, I don't know what criteria Australia is going to use. But you know, they're all great allies, and they all make great stuff.

Q: Yesterday, you also talked about the need for longer- range, supersonic U.S. missiles to counter supersonic missiles that our adversaries are fielding.

I want to pin you down a little bit -- are you referring to the Sizzler missile that is on many Chinese and Russian subs, and this new Kalibr class that the Russians are putting on all of their subs?

And what degree of threat do those pose to U.S. forces now, versus potentially years from now?

ADM. HARRIS: Yeah, so -- so, I don't want to get into the specific systems, the Kalibr or the Sizzler system, because I'm afraid, quite frankly, I'll cross into some classified information.

So, I won't talk about them specifically.

But to your question, you know, of course I'm concerned about the weapons that our potential adversaries field. And I think that we need to also field the best capability we have, not only to defend ourselves, but also for offensive capability.

So, I spoke yesterday about the SM-6.

Q: Right.v

ADM. HARRIS: Which Secretary Work recently talked about. You know, we're going to be able to take that missile design for surface-to-air defense, and put it into a surface-to-surface offensive role.

That is very exciting to me -- (inaudible) -- and the long-range anti-ship. So, these are all capabilities that I think we need.

And regarding the question of, are -- if I understood you right -- are these systems that you mentioned that the Russians and the Chinese fielding, are they going to be a greater threat in the future?

Q: Are they a current threat now?

ADM. HARRIS: Well, they're a current threat now, and will they be a greater threat in the future -- that depends on -- on us, right? I mean, that depends on the SM-6, LRASM and all the other capabilities that we have. So we need to -- we need to build these up so that these threats are minimized in the future, and I think we're on the right path to do that.

STAFF: We've got time for two more questions.

Q: Thank you, admiral. Carla Babb, Voice of America.

ADM. HARRIS: I'm sorry, what's -- what's your name?

Q: You've called for more flyovers and patrols; Voice of America, Carla Babb.


Q: And since you've called for more, I wanted to get your opinion on if you think these flyovers and patrols have been an effective deterrent against Chinese militarization, and what you're basing that on.

ADM. HARRIS: I think it's early days. You know, again the -- the military part of this is only a part of this, and so -- you know, I'm doing my part of it, I believe, but there's all the other elements of -- of national power that are -- that are involved in dissuading Chinese provocations in the South China Sea.

Diplomacy's the most important part. Secretary Kerry is leading that effort, and he spoke to that, I think, yesterday and -- either yesterday or the day before yesterday. And so I'm going to do my part, and I'm very confident in -- in the military capabilities that are resident in PACOM.

Q: So just to clarify, you think it's too soon to tell whether or not these patrols and flyovers have been effective?

ADM. HARRIS: Yeah. We've done two of them, and so that's -- that's a small data point, and I think it's too soon to tell if they -- if those alone are having an effect.

I think -- writ large, we're having an effect. I mean, you can just -- again, as I mentioned earlier, you can -- you can see China's reaction to that, and more importantly, you see the reaction of our friends, allies and partners in the region, and how they are reacting to China's provocations, and how they're reacting to our operations there.

STAFF: In an overt attempt for a last question to talk about India, I'm going to go to -- (inaudible).

Q: Thank you. We started with India. Let's end with India too. Two questions.

At the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, you were asked a question on F-16, and your response said that the sale of F-16 will certainly affect some aspect of our relations with India. What aspects of relationship would be affected by the sale of F-16 to Pakistan?

ADM. HARRIS: All I meant when I said that was that I understand that India is concerned about our sale of F-16s to Pakistan, but -- but -- but let me just say that -- you know, we don't view our security relationships in -- as a zero-sum game.

And so our relationships with India, with Japan, with Pakistan are independent, and it's not zero-sum. And so I'm -- I understand that India's concerns about our sale of F-16s to Pakistan, and they will, I'm sure, let me hear that when I go to India next week.

Q: And secondly, what kind of relationship you want to build with India? And when -- when -- when you planning to visit next week, during the talks, is a joint patrol with Indian naval forces in the South China Sea an issue of discussion with them?

ADM. HARRIS: You know, I don't know if it's going to be an issue of discussion. You know, I'm going to -- you know, go there to -- principally to speak at the Raisina Dialogue, and then I'll have meetings with Indian leadership, and I want to hear what they have to say. So I don't know if they're going to raise the issue of joint patrols or not.

But my intent and goal with India is to improve dramatically our mil-to-mil because that's my lane, our mil-to-mil relationship, military-to-military relationship with India.

I have made India a primary line of effort, a formal line of effort at PACOM to improve and increase our interaction and interoperability with India. So all of my commanders have been to India, and I'm going to go next week.

I was in India as a Pacific fleet commander, but I haven't been yet as the PACOM commander. So I'm looking forward to the visit, I think that two countries like India and the United States, the world's two largest democracies, we share values and we share interests and we share concerns. So now, I'm excited about the opportunity to work with India.

STAFF: Ladies and gentlemen, I think --

Q: I have a question -- I have a question about --


ADM. HARRIS: Thank you all very much for your time.


Like Us