Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced Wednesday that the Pentagon was renaming U.S. Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command in order to better reflect regional priorities.
Mattis made the announcement at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on Wednesday during a change-of-command ceremony for the U.S. military's oldest and largest geographic unified combatant command.
Mattis owed the name change to increased connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a press release from the command.
"In recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans, today we rename the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command," Mattis said. "Over many decades this command has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstances and today carries that legacy forward as America focuses west."
The command's new abbreviation will be USINDOPACOM. Its area of responsibility does not change with its name and still includes China, the Korean peninsula, Australia, much of Antartica, and more than 30 other nations. India, an increasingly important U.S. partner in the region, also falls under the command's responsibility.
"Relationships with our Indian Ocean and Pacific allies and partners have proven critical in maintaining regional stability," Mattis said. "We stand by our partners and support their sovereign decisions, because all nations large and small are essential to the region to sustain stability in ocean areas critical to maintaining peace."
Adm. Phil Davidson replaced Adm. Harry Harris, who had led the command since 2015, as the command's new commander. Harris, meanwhile, retired from the Navy. He has been nominated by President Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to South Korea after originally having been nominated to be ambassador to Australia.
Davidson takes over as the command's 25th commander following a successful tour as Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command/Naval Forces U.S. Northern Command in Norfolk, Va.
"For more than 70 years, the Indo-Pacific has been largely peaceful," Davidson said. "In most ways, this was made possible by two things: the commitment of free nations to the free and open international order … and the credibility of the combat power within U.S. Pacific Command … To our allies here in the Indo-Pacific, you will have no better ally. To our partners, I look forward to advancing our partnership in a way that serves our mutual interests."