The Pentagon may soon be announcing a new name for its largest area of operations, with a change to Indo-Pacific Command to “better encapsulate the responsibilities the command currently has,” Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said Monday.

The unexpected discussion that U.S. Pacific Command may be getting re-named came after a reporter’s question at a briefing Monday.

“I want to ask about the change of name from Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command,” the reporter said. “Aside from changing signs, what implications would it have?”

“There’s no announcement on the change of Pacific Command,” Manning said. “What I will tell you is, that as you know, the significance of any name change is to better characterize the responsibility.”

Congress is pushing for increased focus on China’s activities in the Indo-Pacific and the 2019 defense bill includes several provisions to counter Chinese influence there.

The House Armed Services Committee, in a 15-page summary of its 2019 defense bill, emphasized funding for “DoD’s efforts to plan for and provide the necessary forces and military infrastructure, and logistics capabilities, in the region through the Indo-Pacific Stability Initiative.”

The bill also calls for enhanced “maritime security and maritime domain awareness in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.”

In follow-up questions, Manning added that a potential name change would not change the command’s responsibilities.

“Same AOR, same responsibilities,” Manning said.

“As you look at titles and unit designations, organizations, the name of an organization should encapsulate their responsibility and so certainly that’s a consideration.”

“We’ll follow up with you if a decision is made on that,” Manning said of the renaming. “Let me check the status and figure out if that is something under consideration in the first place.”

Tara Copp is a Pentagon correspondent for the Associated Press. She was previously Pentagon bureau chief for Sightline Media Group.

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