The Defense Department will now refer to U.S. Pacific Command as "U.S. Indo-Pacific Command," Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced today.
Mattis announced the modified name during a change-of-command ceremony in Pearl Harbor, HI. Adm. Philip Davidson is taking over as PACOM's chief, replacing Adm. Harry Harris, who is retiring and has been nominated by President Trump as ambassador to South Korea.
"In recognition of the increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we re-name the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command," Mattis said. "Over many decades, this command has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstance and today carries that legacy forward as America focuses west."
Mattis discussed the importance of the region within the context of the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which calls for U.S. defense policy to shift to prioritizing great power competition with potential adversaries.
The defense secretary made multiple references to one of those potential adversaries, China, without naming them during the ceremony.
"America's vision is shared by most nations in the region, for every state's sovereignty is respected no matter it's size and it's a region open to investment and free, fair and reciprocal trade not bound by any nation's predatory economics or threat of coercion, for the Indo-Pacific has many belts and many roads," he said.