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AFCEA West 2013

Pacific Fleet commander lays out plan

Adm. Cecil Haney plans to take his first flight on the Osprey V-22 during his trip to San Diego this week.

"This impressive and safe aircraft is deployed to Japan and we expect to see it in Hawaii in the coming future," said the Navy officer, who is currently serving as the 60th commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Haney left his base of Hawaii this week to brief an information-hungry audience of government professionals, civilians, professors and engineers at the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 conference in San Diego.

Haney's area of responsibility is vast, spanning from Hollywood to Bollywood and polar bears to penguins. Under his region, there are 96 ships, 41 submarines, more than 1,000 aircraft and almost 100,000 active Navy people.

Haney, who assumed command in January 2012, discussed on Wednesday the importance of the Navy in the Pacific and opportunities to improve warfighting capabilities.

"The economic engines of the world depend on the movement of goods. As a maritime nation we are dependent on the freedom of seas for the movement of commerce to and from shores," he said.

Some $5.3 trillion in global trade flows throughout the South China seas.

"Any disruption of the movement of goods will negatively affect economies," Haney said.

Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, discusses technology innovation as it applies to the Asia-Pacific region during his remarks at the AFCEA Tech-Net Asia-Pacific Conference in Honolulu in November 2012. Haney left his base of Hawaii this week to brief an audience of government professionals, civilians, professors and engineers at the AFCEA/USNI West 2013 conference in San Diego. Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Kolmel/U.S. Navy

The United States will continue to play a role in maintaining the security there, he said.

"Given the nuclear ambitions of a young new leader in North Korea," he said, referring to Kim Jong Un's vow to resume nuclear testing.

Protecting waterways comes with a price, however.

Since last year's budget was enacted, there has been $1.4 billion in increased expenses, including unplanned expenses for increased Naval operations in the Middle East, fuel costs and unexpected repairs.

"The continuing resolution has limited our flexibility to react and doesn't let us [move] funds into operational accounts to address shortfalls," Haney said.

As a result, the department is looking at where it can cut expenses. That might mean reduced overhead and overtime, axed travel plans, possible deferred maintenance in the third quarter and fewer participation in events like Fleet Week.

If sequestration happens, he said, it's a "whole different ballgame," that will further reduce training and readiness.

"I hope our political process can mitigate these things from happening soon or at least in giving a crisp decision," he said.

Haney reflected on ways the United States is amping up its partnerships with allies.

The Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, maritime exercise in 2012 was the largest in naval history, with 22 nations participating. He revealed that China has been invited to participate in the RIMPAC exercise in 2014.

As the United States shifts its attention to the Pacific, Haney considers warfighting readiness his top priority.

When the country rebalanced to the Pacific in the late 1930s, he reminded the audience of the surprise Sunday attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 that destroyed a good amount of the Pacific fleet.

"If we are surprised, we must be ready to respond," he said.

There are various points of tension and friction to address, including overlapping sovereign claims in the South and East China Sea. One example is the Scarborough Reef in the South China Sea, a point of contention between China and the Philippines.

"These disputes can be handled in accordance with international norms and have a peaceful resolution," he said.

The business of rebalancing is not just about platforms and capabilities, he noted.

"It's also about stimulating and developing our intellectual capacity associated with the Asia Pacific region," Haney said. "It's that whole neighborhood that matters."

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