Trump taps PACOM commander as ambassador to Australia

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Harry Harris has been nominated to serve as the next ambassador to Australia, the White House announced Friday.

Harris is wrapping up a three-year assignment as head of Pacific Command, and has made headlines for his tough stance on North Korea and China.

In August, he told Congress that North Korea was "clearly" a threat to Hawaii and has called for greater defensive systems.

And just last month, at a security conference, Harris called China a "disruptive power" in the Pacific.

"We must be willing to take the tough decisions to ensure the Indo-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean remain free, open and prosperous," Harris said at the conference. "This requires like-minded nations to develop capacities, leverage each other's capabilities."

The White House called Harris a "highly decorated, combat proven Naval officer with extensive knowledge, leadership and geo-political expertise in the Indo-Pacific region."

Harris will take over a coveted diplomatic posting that's been vacant since Trump's inauguration. And unlike other recent nominees, he's not expected to get much resistance in Congress.

Harris graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 and was designated a naval flight officer in 1979.

He was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

It's not yet clear who would succeed him as the head of PACOM.

This story will be updated.

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