Pacific command
change set

Inouye says the Senate will
pose no obstacles to Navy Adm.
Fallon taking office Feb. 26

Navy Adm. William J. Fallon will become the 20th commander of U.S. Forces in the Pacific as early as Feb. 26, barring any problems with his Senate confirmation.


William J. Fallon: If he is confirmed, his command will span more than a million square miles

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who was upset when the White House decided initially to take the command away from the Navy, said yesterday he believes Fallon's confirmation "will proceed without any problems."

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said no date has been set for the committee to consider the nomination.

Akaka said he has worked with Fallon in the past, including when the admiral was vice-chief of naval operations, and that he is "well qualified" to run a command that spans 43 countries in the Pacific and South Asia. As the senior U.S. military commander in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas, Fallon would lead the largest of the unified commands and direct Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force operations across more than 100 million square miles.

Inouye, who has advocated that Adm. Thomas Fargo's successor be an admiral, since the command is "traditionally the domain of the Navy," said Fallon has "extensive experience as a flight officer, commander and administrator, and his service in Washington and throughout the world gives him impressive credentials that indicate he will be able to assume the important responsibilities that go along with being the commander of PACOM."

As the Navy's No. 2 man, Fallon, 60, had to represent President Bush in 2001 and apologize to the families of nine people aboard the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru who were killed when it was hit by the attack nuclear submarine USS Greeneville.

Adm. Thomas Fargo will remain in Hawaii and go to work as a board member of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Fargo was in Washington, D.C., at a commanders conference.

The Pacific Command has named Feb. 26 as a possible date for Fargo's change of command, but no formal decision can be made until after Senate action.

Fallon was a combat fighter pilot in the Vietnam War, commanded a carrier air wing in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and four years later led the naval battle group supporting NATO operations in Bosnia. He is now commander of the U.S. Atlantic fleet and the Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

Fallon was not the White House's first choice.

Last summer, President Bush nominated Air Force Gen. Gregory S. Martin to succeed Fargo. But two months later, Martin asked that his nomination be withdrawn after a hearing at which Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., sharply criticized Martin's close professional ties to a top Air Force official embroiled in a procurement scandal.

U.S. Pacific Command

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