President Donald Trump intends to nominate Pacific Command leader Adm. Harry Harris to be the next U.S. ambassador to Australia, the White House announced Friday.
A press release lauded Harris as “a highly decorated, combat proven Naval officer with extensive knowledge, leadership and geo-political expertise in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Harris is expected to retire from the Navy this year.
In addition to leading PACOM, Harris has helmed Pacific Fleet and 6th Fleet during his 39-year career.
Leaders of commands like PACOM generally spend three years in the position, a mark Harris will hit in May. His successor has not yet been announced.
Harris has in recent years pushed a hard line regarding Chinese island building in the South China Sea, a strategy he warned was “militarizing” those waters.
The new administration has signaled that they see North Korea as the single greatest threat to U.S. security in the world. That puts Harris dead in the center of regional forces that could end in catastrophe if it's not carefully managed.
He called out China for creating this “great wall of sand” during a conference in 2015, a move he cautioned was seeding chaos in the region.
The Senate will vote to confirm Harris’ nomination.