White House Plans to Nominate PACFLEET CO to Lead U.S. Joint Force in Pacific

November 30, 2020 6:26 PM
Adm. John Aquilino, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, speaks with 13 other heads of navies or their representatives from allied and partner nations throughout the Indo-Pacific region during a virtual key leader engagement to discuss outlooks and perspectives in this COVID-19 environment on Sept. 23, 2020. US Navy Photo

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino is slated to be nominated to serve as the next chief of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, USNI News has learned.

A U.S. official confirmed to USNI News that the Trump administration is putting Aquilino’s name forward for the position, currently filled by Adm. Phil Davidson. Davidson, who became the head of INDO-PACOM in May 2018 when the combatant command’s name changed from U.S. Pacific Command, is expected to retire.

Aquilino’s impending nomination comes as President-elect Joe Biden’s transition is underway ahead of his January inauguration. USNI News reached out to Biden’s transition team about the nomination but did not immediately receive a reply.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said before the November election that, if Biden were to win, his administration would likely reassess the nuclear posture review. Smith argued that the National Defense Strategy, which emphasizes a move to great power competition and a focus on the Pacific theater, also needs a reexamination.

Aquilino’s nomination was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which noted that U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams had also been in the running for the INDO-PACOM job.

Aquilino has served as the head of PACFLEET since May 2018. A naval aviator who graduated from TOPGUN, Aquilino previously served as the commander of U.S. 5th Fleet and also as the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy (OPNAV N3/N5).

His nomination to serve as the commander of INDO-PACOM would be subject to Senate confirmation.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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