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New leadership set for Pacific Fleet, U.S. Army Pacific

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 7:16 p.m. HST, Jun 29, 2013

Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, has been nominated to be the next Pacific Fleet commander. Harris will be promoted to admiral and receive his fourth star.

The current Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Cecil Haney, will lead the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., the Pentagon announced this week. Haney assumed command of the Pearl Harbor-based Pacific Fleet in 2012.

In other military news:

>> Army Gen. Vincent Brooks on Tuesday will take command of U.S. Army Pacific, becoming the first four-star general at Fort Shafter since 1974. Brooks will succeed Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, who led the command for more than two years.

Wiercinski will retire after 34 years of service, with the last eight years stationed in the Pacific. Army Pacific is responsible for 80,000 soldiers in the region.

Brooks is coming from command of 3rd Army, based at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

The decision to elevate the Fort Shafter job to four stars represents the Army’s commitment to the U.S. pivot toward Asia and the Pacific, the service says.

Brooks is a 1980 graduate of West Point, where he was first captain of cadets.

>> Rear Adm. James F. Caldwell Jr., commander of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force, will become Navy inspector general with rank of vice admiral, the Navy announced. Caldwell assumed command of the Pacific Fleet’s 37 nuclear submarines at Pearl Harbor; Bangor, Wash,; and San Diego in June 2012.

>> Rear Adm. Philip G. Howe, who was selected as the new commander of the Special Operations Command at Camp Smith in January, was nominated for his second star, the Pentagon announced.

In a January interview with The Rafu Shimpo, a newspaper focusing on Los Angeles’ Japa­nese-American community, Harris discussed his Japa­nese heritage, noting he was born in Japan.

He told the newspaper his father was a U.S. Navy petty officer and that his late mother’s parents lost their property in Kobe because of the war.

Harris moved to Tennessee when he was 2 and later lived in Florida.

The admiral said he learned “giri” (obligation) from his issei mother. His mother became a U.S. citizen in 1974.

Harris graduated from the Naval Academy in 1978. His postgraduate education includes Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown's School of Foreign Service and Oxford University. 

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

He has logged about 4,400 flight hours, including more than 400 combat hours. His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal.

The Pacific Fleet encompasses nearly 200 surface ships and submarines and nearly 1,100 aircraft from the West Coast of the U.S. to the Indian Ocean. More than 140,000 sailors and civilians are under its command.

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