USINDOPACOM Commander, U.S. Defense Secretary highlight regional commitment to allies, partners
Adm. John Aquilino, the new Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM), and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently emphasized the U.S. commitment to addressing collective security issues in the region while working alongside allies and partners.
“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,” Aquilino said during a change of command ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, pictured, on April 30, 2021. “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.”
USINDOPACOM is better prepared, trained and equipped than ever due, in part, to its focus on deterrence in the region and investments made with allies and partners under the leadership of Aquilino’s predecessor, Adm. Philip Davidson, Austin said during the ceremony.
For more than 75 years, the U.S. and its allies and partners “have created an environment where all nations could thrive and prosper,” Aquilino said. “I am honored and humbled to take on this important position during a most consequential time.”
With more than 35 years in the military, most recently as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, Aquilino knows how to lead in the Indo-Pacific theater, Austin said.
“Your new commander knows the stakes, he knows the people, and he knows the challenges,” Austin said. “Adm. Aquilino, you are the right leader at the right time.”
Aquilino becomes the 26th Commander of USINDOPACOM, leading more than 380,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Guardians, Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Department of Defense civilians. He is responsible for all U.S. military activity in the Indo-Pacific, covering 36 nations, 14 time zones and more than 50% of the world’s population.
The U.S. will redouble efforts to work across commands and services as it develops capabilities, capacities and operational flexibility for the fights of the future, Austin said. Advances in technology mean renewed focus on securing all five domains of potential conflict — not just air, land and sea, but also space and cyberspace.
“Being the best today isn’t a guarantee of being the best tomorrow … not in an age when technology is changing the character of warfare itself … and not at a time when our potential adversaries are very deliberately working to blunt our edge,” Austin said. “Our challenge is to ensure that our deterrence holds strong for the long haul, across all realms of potential conflict.”
The U.S. will use existing and new capabilities in networked ways hand in hand with allies and partners, Austin said.
“Under this integrated deterrence, the U.S. military isn’t meant to stand apart but to buttress U.S. diplomacy and advance a foreign policy that employs all of our instruments of national power,” Austin said. “As the president of the United States has made clear, diplomacy must come first, and the use of force must be a very last resort.”
USINDOPACOM’s leaders understand that they must work to prevent conflict. “And if we can’t prevent it, we need to be ready to win it,” Austin said, “and to win it decisively.”
IMAGE CREDIT: PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS ANTHONY J. RIVERA/U.S. NAVY