Trump picks top Pacific commander to be Australia ambassador

Adm. Harry Harris has been tough on North Korea

By JAMIE CRAWFORD
Headline Goes Here By Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Viramontes, U.S. Navy (6th Fleet commander visits USS Monterey) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. (left), commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, meets with Capt. James Kilby, commanding officer of USS Monterey during the ships port visit to Naples.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Trump has announced his intent to nominate the top US military official overseeing operations across Asia to be his next ambassador to Australia.

Adm. Harry Harris currently serves as commander of US Pacific Command, a combatant command that oversees all US military activities in the Indo-Pacific region.

His nomination comes at a time of increasing bellicose and provocative actions from North Korea as the regime of Kim Jong Un races to achieve its goal of fielding a nuclear tipped ballistic missile capable of hitting anywhere in the continental United States.

During his tenure at Pacific Command, Harris has not minced words about North Korea's ambitions.

US forces in the Pacific "must be prepared to fight tonight, so I take him at his word," he said last year about Kim's intentions. "I must assume his claims are true -- I know his aspirations certainly are."

Harris has also watched as an increasingly assertive China has pursued a more muscular military posture in the Pacific and established a military presence on man-made islands in areas the United States and its allies contend are international waters.

A 1978 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Harris was designated a naval flight officer after graduation and has held several other command assignments in the Navy, including with the US Pacific Fleet and the 6th Fleet.

He is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington next week in his current capacity about security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

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