In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Trump administration on Thursday renamed the to US Indo-Pacific Command.
The move is also reflective of the growing importance of the Indian Ocean in US strategic thinking.
Henceforth, the storied US Pacific Command, or PACOM, which was formed after World War II, will be known as the Indo-Pacific Command.
Soon after coming to power, the Trump administration had renamed Asia Pacific as Indo-Pacific and identified India as one bookend of the region.
The latest announcement was made by the US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis during the change of guard ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbour wherein Admiral Phil Davidson replaced Admiral Harry Harris as Commander, US Indo-Pacific Command or IndoPacom.
“In recognition of the increasing connectivity, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command. Over many decades, this command has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstance, and today carries that legacy forward as America focuses west,” Mattis said in his remarks on the occasion.
Referring to the 2018 National Defence Strategy which acknowledges Pacific challenges and signals America’s resolve and lasting commitment to the Indo-Pacific, Mattis said America’s vision is shared by most nations in the region.
“For every state, sovereignty is respected, no matter its 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,” Mattis said in an apparent dig at China which is investing billions of dollars for its so called one belt one road initiative.
America continues to invest vigorously in Indo-Pacific stability, bolstering the free and open rules-based international order that has enabled this region to grow and thrive for over 70 years.
“While we are prepared to face any who would seek to challenge America’s resolve, our National Defence Strategy is not a strategy of confrontation,” he said.
Mattis said the US will always be seeking peace from a position of strength.
“We will also continue further strengthening existing alliances and fostering new partnerships in the region, for these form a fundamental cornerstone of our strategic vision, a shared vision respectful of all nations sovereignty, and allowing us to reinforce a resilient security architecture capable of confronting shared threats, be they terrorism or an inhibition of free trade or humanitarian disasters that can befall any nation,” he said.
Observing that relationships with Pacific and Indian Ocean allies and partners have proven critical to maintaining regional stability, Mattis said the US stands by its partners and support their sovereign decisions, because all nations, large and small, are essential to the region if they are to sustain stability in ocean areas critical to global peace.