Senators on Wednesday confirmed Adm. Samuel Paparo as the next leader of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, putting the longtime naval officer in charge of American military strategy and operations for the West Pacific combatant command.

Paparo’s confirmation was advanced by a voice vote without any objections late Wednesday evening, alongside 25 other senior military promotions. The chamber also confirmed Aprille Joy Ericsson as assistant secretary of defense within the Department of Defense’s research office in a voice vote.

Paparo will replace Adm. John Aquilino, who has served in the INDOPACOM role since April 2021. Paparo currently serves as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, and was nominated for the new role last August.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 1, Paparo listed China, Russia and North Korea as the most pressing threats to U.S. military interests in the Pacific.

“If confirmed, I will ensure that we maintain the overmatch that preserves stability today, tomorrow, next week and for the decades to come,” he said.

Paparo is the son of an enlisted Marine and the grandson of an enlisted sailor who fought in World War II, according to his command biography. The Pennsylvania native has served in a variety of leadership roles during his 37-year military career.

A TOPGUN graduate, Paparo has logged more than 6,000 hours flying the F-14 Tomcat, the F-15 Eagle and the F/A-18 Super Hornet and has 1,100 carrier landings under his belt. As a fighter pilot, he took out a surface-to-air missile site in Kandahar during the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

He was one of hundreds of military leaders whose promotions and confirmations were held up for months last year after Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., staged a protest over the Defense Department’s abortion access policies.

Tuberville dropped those holds in December, but Paparo’s confirmation took several more weeks because of lingering background work by the Senate committee.

INDOPACOM oversees more than 380,000 American servicemembers stationed overseas and is responsible for all U.S. military activities in 36 nations.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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