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Obama nominates new head of U.S. Pacific Command

(Xinhua)

13:04, December 29, 2011

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear as the new commander of U.S. Pacific Command, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Locklear would replace Adm. Robert Willard as head of Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Command, the largest of the military's Unified Combatant Commands which covers an area stretching from the waters off the west coast of the United States to the western border of India.

Locklear, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is currently commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and commander of Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy. He directly commanded the operation in Libya which eventually removed Muammar Gaddafi from power.

One of six such commands, U.S. Pacific Command includes approximately 325,000 military and civilian personnel, or about one-fifth of the total U.S. military strength.

The nomination came as the United States attaches great importance to the Asia-Pacific region. Since it took office in early 2009, the Obama administration has realized the strategic importance of the region and adopted a back-to-Asia strategy in a bid to maintain the U.S. leadership in both economic and security arenas in Asia.

Willard, a former F-14 fighter jet aviator, became head of U.S. Pacific Command on Oct. 19, 2009.

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