In a symbolic move to reiterate India’s importance to Pentagon, US Pacific Command has changed its name to US Indo-Pacific Command. The Pacific Command has about 375,000 civilian and military personnel and is responsible for all the US military activity in the greater Pacific region.
James Mattis, US Defence Secretary has underscored the US relations with its Indian Ocean allies and stated that they are vital to maintaining regional security. Mattis clearly stated that the renaming of the Command was due to the increase in connectivity between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. Although no new additional assets will be added to the Command the decision is to recognize the increasing military relevance of India for the US.
US and India had signed a joint agreement in 2016 for governing the use of land, air and even naval bases for both repair and resupply to foster defence ties to counter increasing maritime presence of China. The US is also keen to establish itself in the massive defence market of India and has emerged as the largest supplier of weapons for India. The US closed deals worth $15 billion in the last decade.
Admiral Philip Davidson will now lead the US Indo-Pacific Command. He replaced Adm. Harry Harris who has been appointed by President Trump to take over as US Ambassador to South Korea. The name change will also present a better picture of the areas which come under the ambit of the Command which comprises 36 nations and both Indian and Pacific Oceans. The rebranding is also significant amid the growing tensions between US and China in addition to its renewed tariff war.