Harry B. Harris is a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy. Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and U.S. naval officer father, he grew up in the United States and graduated in 1978 as a naval flight officer from the U.S. Naval Academy.
As a pilot, Harris logged over 4,400 hours, including over 400 combat hours. He has studied East Asian security at Harvard University, Georgetown University, and the University of Oxford. In 2011, he became commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet based in Italy, and led the U.S. response to the crisis in Libya.
Why is he in the news?
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in June 2013 announced that Harris would take over as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He is the first Japanese-American to ever hold this post. Harris paid a three-day introductory visit to Singapore from January 20 to 22, where he met with Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, visited Changi Naval Base, and addressed U.S. personnel assigned to the Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific aboard the USS Spruance.
What can we expect from him?
Harris made clear in his induction speech that he believes strongly in working closely with allies and partners in the Asia Pacific. As a Japanese-American with a strong academic background in East Asian affairs, he is equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to build rapport with strategic partners in the region. Harris’ leadership will be on display when the United States hosts Rimpac, the world’s largest multilateral maritime exercise, later this year. Expect him to make frequent high-level visits to countries in the region and press for multilateral military cooperation as an important component of the U.S. rebalance to Asia.