By Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal Defense Media Activity - Hawaii
HONOLULU, January 16, 2016 — Speaking to local government officials, private sector representatives and military leaders, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command emphasized Hawaii’s importance in the future of the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater during an annual meeting for the local Military Affairs Council, Jan. 15.
Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris recognized the council and state leaders for their support in communicating how joint military forces in Hawaii support the national security strategy and ongoing Pacific rebalance initiative.
Harris said there is no doubt that the United States economic future is firmly tied to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, and that everyone must work together to strengthen civil and military relationships and with other nations in the region.
“Due to the outstanding communications conducted by Governor Ige, Mayor Caldwell, Senators Schatz and Hirono, Representatives Gabbard and Takai, and all of our local-state officials, decision makers in Washington and throughout the region are well aware that Hawaii remains the gateway to America’s rebalance to the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” Harris said.
Harris said the state’s role in supporting the rebalance -- Hawaii is the only place where all U.S. component commanders are geographically co-located -- allows forces to train and operate jointly and benefit from a face-to-face relationship, an advantage made largely possible because of the support from the state.
“This gives us an extraordinary advantage and it wouldn’t be possible without the continued dedication and support from Hawaii’s community, civic, and industry leadership,” Harris said. “In addition to our forces in Hawaii, the presence and capabilities we are bringing forward into this theater are commensurate with the challenges that we face.”
Harris sighted an example of strengthening security ties between the Philippines and the United States through an enhanced defense cooperation agreement.
“The agreement will facilitate the enhanced rotational presence of the U.S. military in the region, and support the long-term modernization of the armed forces of the Philippines,” Harris said. “This will enable the United States and the Philippines to continue supporting the international rules-based order that has served the region so well.”
Harris also emphasized that security and stability -- which the region has enjoyed -- can’t be taken for granted. Hawaii’s role to the rebalance will continue to support Pacom's commitment to the security and safety of the nation’s allies as possible threats in the region emerge.
“Security challenges such as North Korea threaten to destabilize the region and reverse the trends of transparency and prosperity that we’ve all enjoyed,” Harris said. “America is rebalancing to the Indo-Asia-Pacific to meet those challenges and reinforce the international rules-based order that has benefited the region for more than 70 years and Hawaii plays a critical role.”