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Adm. Davidson nominated as head of U.S. Pacific Command

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U.S. Navy Adm. Philip S. Davidson addresses U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and sailors with the USS Bataan during a ceremony in New York City in May 2016.

Three key military positions affecting the Pacific theater and involving top-ranking Hawaii-based commanders were announced by the Pentagon today.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the president nominated Navy Adm. Philip S. Davidson as head of U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith. Davidson is currently serving as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

The nomination means the Navy likely will keep its 71-year grip on Pacific Command since its creation as a unified command in 1947.

Davidson is slated to replace the highly-respected Adm. Harry Harris, who is retiring and expected to be the next ambassador to Australia. The Pacific Command job is subject to U.S. Senate review.

Mattis also said Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, who is based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, has been nominated for assignment as commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

O’Shaughnessy is currently in charge of Pacific Air Forces; air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff.

Additionally, Mattis said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, currently serving as the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific at Camp Smith, is nominated to be deputy commandant for combat development and integration at Marine Corps headquarters.

Pacific Command is the oldest and largest of the United States’ nine unified commands, covers more than half the globe and includes seven of the world’s 10 largest standing armies.

About 375,000 U.S. military and civilian personnel are assigned to the command. Its subordinate Pacific Fleet has 200 ships and nearly 1,100 aircraft.

The Air Force’s O’Shaughnessy was reported in October to be the “leading nominee” for the Pacific Command job by DefenseNews.com.

The Pentagon tried to break the Navy’s hold on Pacific Command in 2004 — unsuccessfully — with the nomination of Air Force Gen. Gregory “Speedy” Martin, who faced withering questioning from U.S. Sen. John McCain over a tainted Boeing contract before withdrawing his name from further consideration.

Hawaii U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, who died in 2012, once said that the Pacific was a “water command” that should be led by an admiral.

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