Vice Adm. Harris Nominated as Pacific Fleet Commander

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WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Monday that President Obama has nominated Navy Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. for appointment to the rank of admiral and for assignment as commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor.

Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr.

Harris is currently serving as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Pentagon.

He would succeed Adm. Cecil Haney, who has been appointed to lead the U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska. Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

The Pacific Fleet encompasses nearly 200 surface ships and submarines and nearly 1,100 aircraft from the U.S. West Coast to the Indian Ocean. It includes more than 140,000 sailors and civilians.

Harris was born in Japan and reared in Tennessee and Florida. Following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and designation as a naval flight officer, he was assigned to VP-44. His subsequent operational tours include tactical action officer aboard the USS Saratoga (CV 60); operations officer in VP-4; three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1 at Kamiseya, Japan; director of operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet at Manama, Bahrain; and director of operations for the U.S. Southern Command.

He commanded VP-46, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1; Joint Task Force-Guantanamo; the U.S. 6th Fleet; and Striking and Support Forces NATO.

Harris has served in every geographic combatant command region, and participated in the following named operations: Attain Document (Libya, 1986), Earnest Will (Kuwaiti reflagged tanker ops, 1987-88), Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector (Libya, 2011). For Odyssey Dawn, he served as the Joint Force maritime component commander (JFMCC) afloat.

His postgraduate education includes Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University. He was an Admiral Arthur S. Moreau scholar and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Seminar 21 fellow.

Harris’ staff assignments include aide to commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan; special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and three tours on the Navy Staff, including deputy chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6).

In October 2011, he was assigned as the assistant to the chairman of the JCS. In this capacity, he serves as the chairman’s direct representative to the secretary of state. He is also the U.S. roadmap monitor for the Middle East peace process.

Harris has logged 4,400 flight hours, including over 400 combat hours, in maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal (2), Defense Superior Service Medal (3), Legion of Merit (3), Bronze Star (2), and Air Medal (strike/flight). He is also a recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award and the Navy League’s Stephen Decatur Award.

Last year, Harris was the keynote speaker at the Go For Broke National Education Center’s Evening of Aloha in Los Angeles. In his speech, he said that his Japanese mother taught him to be proud of his ethnic heritage, and that he learned about the importance of giri (duty or obligation) from her.

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