U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has a new leader

by Vern Evans

Adm. Samuel Paparo became the 27th commander of the Asia-focused U.S. Indo-Pacific Command during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Friday.

Paparo, who recently served as head of the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved Adm. John Aquilino, who has led the combatant command since 2021.

He will oversee a joint combatant command that encompasses more than 380,000 U.S. troops across all services, as well as 38 nations, 14 time zones and more than 50% of the world’s population, according to the Defense Department.

During the ceremony, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the command’s mission lies “at the heart of American security in the 21st century,” according to a news release.

“When I assumed command three years ago, I said I’d give you my full and unwavering commitment to take on this great responsibility and do my best to meet it,” Aquilino said to Austin during the ceremony. “I hope you believe I’ve met that mark.”

A TOPGUN graduate who once led a provincial reconstruction team in one of Afghanistan’s most-kinetic corners, Paparo has in recent years warned repeatedly about the threat that the Chinese military poses to the Western-led global order.

“The [command’s] team is uniquely ready to shape the current strategic environment to our nation and our Allies and partners’ advantage,” Paparo said Friday. “We must act now with a sense of urgency.”

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at [email protected].

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