Admiral Harris visits Australia at an important juncture in alliance relations and regional security, as a new administration prepares to take over the reins in Washington. This year has seen a number of key regional developments, from the Arbitral Tribunal case in the South China Sea, to presidential elections in the Philippines and the United States. There were also a number of other key developments in Australia’s defence, including a new White Paper, a decision on future submarines, and agreement on the terms for hosting rotational US Marine deployments in the Northern Territory. Admiral Harris will highlight key enduring security interests for the US in this fast-moving regional and alliance context.
In his role as Commander US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris is responsible for military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles—more than half the earth’s surface. Admiral Harris graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1978 and undertook graduate studies in East Asia security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University. He has served in every geographic combatant command region, and participated in a range of major operations, including Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn (Libya, 2011). Harris’ staff assignments include aide to commander, US Naval Forces Japan; chief speechwriter for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and three tours on the Navy Staff. Harris was promoted to Admiral and assumed command of the US Pacific Fleet in October 2013. In May 2015, he assumed command of the US Pacific Command.