US rebrands Pacific Command amid tensions with China

The US announced Wednesday that it would rebrand the command responsible for overseeing US military operations in Asi...

Posted: May 31, 2018 8:42 AM
Updated: May 31, 2018 8:42 AM

The US announced Wednesday that it would rebrand the command responsible for overseeing US military operations in Asia, a move that comes amid heightened tensions with China over the militarization of the South China Sea.

US Pacific Command will now be called US Indo-Pacific Command, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said while speaking at a change of command ceremony in Hawaii, where the command's headquarters is located.

"In recognition of the increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command," Mattis said.

"It is our primary combatant command, it's standing watch and intimately engaged with over half of the earth's surface and its diverse populations, from Hollywood, to Bollywood, from polar bears to penguins," Mattis said of the command.

Adm. Harry Harris, who oversaw US military operations in the region until Wednesday, has been tapped by President Donald Trump to serve as the US ambassador to South Korea. Adm. Phillip Davidson will now lead the Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees some 375,000 US military and civilian personnel.

US officials say the name change is meant to better reflect the command's areas of responsibility, which includes 36 nations as well as both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The US has increased cooperation with India in a range of areas, including defense cooperation, and both Washington and New Delhi have voiced concerns about what they see as an increased assertiveness by China's military.

The rebranding comes in the wake of a series of actions by both the Chinese and US militaries that have raised tensions in the South China Sea. The US and the majority of the international community reject Beijing's claims of ownership of the area.

In recent months US officials have said that the Chinese military has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea.

China also recently landed a nuclear-capable H-6K bomber aircraft on Woody Island for the first time.

Those actions led the US to disinvite China from participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, which the US Navy calls "the world's largest international maritime exercise," and involves some 26 nations including India and countries like Vietnam and the Philippines which actively contest China's claims to the South China Sea.

"China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region. As an initial response to China's continued militarization of the South China Sea we have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Logan told CNN last week.

"We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features," he added.

The US Navy also sailed two warships Sunday past a handful of disputed islands in the South China Sea, including Woody Island where the Chinese bomber landed, a move that drew the immediate ire of Beijing.

Two US defense officials told CNN that the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and the cruiser USS Antietam sailed within 12 miles of four of the Paracel Islands in what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation," which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in international waters.

Two US officials said that during the freedom of navigation exercise a Chinese naval vessel shadowed the US warships, coming close enough to the US ships that the encounter was considered unprofessional but safe.

"It's international waters, and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation," Mattis told reporters Tuesday while en route to the change of command ceremony.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 115833

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook753063519
Lake7933281
DuPage7460350
Kane6083167
Will5356268
Winnebago209153
McHenry148870
St. Clair105077
Kankakee83644
Kendall75119
Rock Island63923
Champaign5957
Madison54557
Boone42416
DeKalb3704
Sangamon34328
Randolph2674
Jackson25610
McLean21613
Ogle2002
Stephenson1992
Macon19219
Peoria1918
Out of IL1831
Clinton18017
Union1519
Unassigned1490
LaSalle14113
Whiteside13412
Iroquois1314
Coles12313
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox960
Grundy952
Monroe9311
McDonough847
Lee791
Tazewell704
Cass690
Henry670
Williamson602
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin442
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion381
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard190
Mason180
Washington180
Woodford182
Hancock160
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 67°
Robinson
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 65°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 63°
Casey
Overcast
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 65°
Brazil
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 67°
Marshall
Overcast
67° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 67°
Cold Front Approaching
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events