Nominee to Head Pacific Command Goes Before Senate Committee
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2005 The nominee to become the next commander of the U.S. Pacific Command acknowledged the challenges that face him in the Asia-Pacific theater should he be confirmed to that position.
"If confirmed, I intend to work hard to establish and nurture the personal and nation-to-nation relationships that I consider essential to the security of the region," said Navy Adm. William J. Fallon in addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 15. "I recognize that the sheer size, vast distances and immense populations of the Asia Pacific region add a unique challenge to our operations in that theater, but I'm ready to get under way."
One of the challenges in the region is the Korean nuclear situation. Fallon said it should be addressed in two ways. The first is to maintain a deterrent posture while signaling support for South Korea. The second is facilitating diplomatic efforts.
Restarting six-party talks or working different initiatives from the United States or through other nations in the area are appropriate courses of action, he said.
"Clearly, something as disturbing in not only the nuclear revelation, or assertion, but the fact that the North Koreans have been exporting their missile technology which may provide the means to deliver these types of weapons is certainly something of high concern," he said. "I look forward, if confirmed, to engage with our allies in the area and to our other experts, in government and out, to learn as much as we can so that I can be of some use in this."
China is another point of interest within PACOM's area of responsibility. And one that Fallon and committee chairman Virginia Sen. John Warner agree should not be ignored. The committee's interest is based on knowledge of China's expanding conventional and strategic military capabilities as well as the mainland's relationship with Taiwan, Warner said.
Fallon said that despite the challenges that lie ahead, he is ready take command of PACOM if confirmed.
"There is much for me to learn, but I eagerly look forward to working with our superb soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines and our friends and allies should I be confirmed," he said.
Now serving as commander of Fleet Forces Command and U.S. Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk, Va., Fallon would replace Adm. Thomas B. Fargo as commander of PACOM.
Fallon earned his commission in 1967 and has served in several command positions, including as commander of Battle Force 6th Fleet during Operation Deliberate Force over Bosnia in 1995. From October 2000 through 2003, Fallon was the 31st vice chief of naval operations.