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Austin Underlines Power of Partnerships in Indo-Pacom Change of Command > US Department of Defense > Department of Defense News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III underscored the strength of U.S. partnerships in the Indo-Pacific as he presided over the U.S. Indo-Pacific Change of Command Ceremony today at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

The minister commended the hundreds of thousands of Indo-Pacom military and civilian personnel for the great progress made by the US and its allies in strengthening freedom and security across the region.

“Every day, Indo-Pacom stands guard in our priority area of ​​operations,” Austin said. “And together with our unparalleled network of allies and partners, you will advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific – every one of you.”

These steps, Austin said, are critical amid a series of challenges across the region, ranging from China’s increasingly coercive behavior in the Taiwan Strait, the East and South China Seas and elsewhere in the region.

“(China) is the only country with both the will – and, increasingly, the ability – to dominate the Indo-Pacific and reshape the world order to meet its autocratic vision,” he said, noting that China the challenge for the Ministry of Defense remains. .

These challenges are compounded by the threats posed by North Korea, Russia, and violent extremists in the Indo-Pacific.

“But Indo-Pacom has risen to meet the moment, together with our allies and partners,” Austin said. “And it has brought us closer to our shared vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free, open and secure – every time.”

Austin credited outgoing Indo-Pacom Navy Commander John C. Aquilino for his leadership in transforming the United States’ posture in the region during “a defining time for our defense strategy” under his tenure.

The secretary noted Aquilino’s leading voice behind major investments in critical munitions and the push to arm the warfighter with critical capabilities.

He also highlighted Aquilino’s leadership in deepening partnerships across the region – a critical part of the U.S. strategy to prevent conflict within Indo-Pacom’s vast area of ​​responsibility.

“Indo-Pacom is working with our regional allies and partners like never before,” Austin said, pointing to a series of major combined regional exercises that are essential to strengthening interoperability with key allies.

Austin also noted the major strides made with allies and partners in strengthening the United States’ regional force – from stationing the most advanced Marine Littoral Regiment in Japan to expanding U.S. access to four new locations in under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines.

He also noted milestones under the Major Defense Partnership with India and the AUKUS partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Our allies are also working together in unprecedented ways, such as in the growing trilateral relationship between Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States,” Austin said. “And we have continued to strengthen our ties across the region, including with (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Quad and other groups of partners.”

That commitment to partnerships was on full display in the lead-up to the change of command ceremony when Austin hosted a series of meetings with his counterparts from Australia, Japan and the Philippines at Indo-Pacom headquarters on Thursday.

At a press conference after the meetings, the leaders underlined their commitment to further improve interoperability between their armed forces and promote peace and security across the region.

“We are gathered here because we share a vision for peace, stability and deterrence in the Indo-Pacific,” Austin said. “We have set an ambitious course to advance that vision together, which is why today’s meetings were so important.

During the change of command ceremony, Marine. Admiral Samuel J. Paparo assumed command of Indo-Pacom.

Paparo, a naval aviator with 37 years of service, most recently served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Austin highlighted Paparo’s experience flying critical missions around the world and his deep experience in the Indo-Pacom theater.

“It all led to this – to the challenge of leading the Indo-Pacom in the United States,” Austin said. “Sam, we know you will excel. We know you will lead with principle and pride. And we know you will keep America safe.”

In his speech, Paparo further underlined the importance of close partnerships with allies in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“As we look to the future, the joint force will meet this great responsibility with strength, determination and confidence,” he said. “Indo-Pacom, along with our partners, is in a position to deny and defend attempts to break the peace provided by the international rules-based order.”

Admiral Aquilino retires after 40 years of service. He holds the title of the longest-serving Naval Academy graduate on active duty.