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U.S. Senate approves Locklear as head of Pacific Command

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 6:02 p.m. HST, Feb 17, 2012

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, who played a key role in the U.S. military effort in Libya, was approved by the U.S. Senate today to be the next commander of U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, officials said.

Locklear will be the 25th Navy admiral to lead the multi-service command since it was established by President Harry Truman in 1947.

Locklear will replace Adm. Robert F. Willard as head of the oldest and largest of the military's six regional Unified Combatant Commands.

A change of command is tentatively scheduled for early March, after which, Willard will retire, officials said.

Locklear was commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, established to command U.S. forces supporting the international response to unrest in Libya.

He was most recently commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy.

The U.S. Pacific Command encompasses half the Earth's surface. The command oversees about 325,000 personnel, or about one-fifth of total U.S. military strength. U.S. Pacific Fleet includes six aircraft carrier strike groups, about 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 100,000 personnel.

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