United States Pacific Command

United States Pacific Command
Official USPACOM Emblem
Founded January 1, 1947 (1947-01-01)
Country  United States of America
Type Unified Combatant Command
Part of Department of Defense
Headquarters Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i
Nickname(s) USPACOM, PACOM
Engagements Korean War, Vietnam War
Decorations Joint Meritorious Unit Award (9)
Commander Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., USN
Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Anthony G. Crutchfield, USA
Chief of Staff Major General Kevin B. Schneider, USAF

United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) is a unified combatant command of the United States armed forces responsible for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is the oldest and largest of the unified combatant commands. Its commander, the senior U.S. military officer in the Pacific, is responsible for military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles, or roughly 52 percent of the Earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The Commander reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by Service component and subordinate unified commands, including U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Forces Korea, Special Operations Command Korea, and Special Operations Command Pacific. USPACOM also has three direct reporting units (DRUs), including Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, U.S. Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Operations Center, Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance; and a Standing Joint Task Force, Joint Interagency Task Force West. The USPACOM headquarters building, the Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center, is located on Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai’i.


USPACOM Area of Responsibility in blue
United States Pacific Command protects and defends, in concert with other U.S. Government agencies, the territory of the United States, its people, and its interests. With allies and partners, we will enhance stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression and, when necessary, fighting to win. This approach is based on partnership, presence and military readiness. We recognize the global significance of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and understand that challenges are best met together. Consequently, we will remain an engaged and trusted partner committed to preserving the security, stability, and freedom upon which enduring prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region depends. We will collaborate with the Services and other Combatant Commands to defend America's interests.[1]

Geographic scope

USPACOM's geographic area of responsibility encompasses the Pacific Ocean from Antarctica at 92°W, north to 8°N, west to 112°W, northwest to 50°N/142°W, west to 170°E, north to 53°N, northeast to 62°30’N/175°W, north to 64°45’N/175°W, south along the Russian territorial waters to the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic or Korea, and Japan; the countries of Southeast Asia and the southern Asian landmass to the western border of India; the Indian Ocean east and south of the line from the India/Pakistan coastal border west to 68°E, south along 68°E to Antarctica; Australia; New Zealand; Antarctica, and Hawai'i.

Force structure

Component Commands

Emblem Command Acronym Commander Established Headquarters Subordinate Commands
United States Army Pacific USARPAC General Robert B. Brown October 1, 2000 Fort Shafter, Hawai'i
United States Pacific Fleet USPACFLT Admiral Scott H. Swift July 22, 1907 Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i
United States Pacific Air Forces PACAF General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy August 3, 1944 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawai'i
United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific MARFORPAC Lieutenant General David H. Berger July 27, 1992 Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i

Subordinate Unified Commands

Emblem Command Acronym Commander Established Headquarters Subordinate Commands
United States Forces Japan USFJ Lieutenant General Jerry P. Martinez July 1, 1957 Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Japan
United States Forces Korea USFK General Vincent K. Brooks January 1, 1983 Yongsan Garrison, Seoul, South Korea
Special Operations Command Pacific SOCPAC Major General Bryan P. Fenton November 1, 1965 Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i

Direct Reporting Units

Emblem Command Acronym Commander Established Headquarters Subordinate Commands
Joint Intelligence Operations Center Pacific JIOC January 1, 1983 Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i
Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance CFE-DM Douglas Wallace (Acting Director) March 15, 1947 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawai'i

Standing Joint Task Force

Emblem Command Acronym Commander Established Headquarters Subordinate Commands
Joint Interagency Task Force West JIATF West Rear Admiral Keith M. Smith, USCG February 10, 1989 Camp H.M. Smith, Hawai'i


Establishment of Unified Commands in the Pacific

USPACOM has evolved through the gradual consolidation of various commands in the Pacific and Far East. Its origins can be traced to the command structure established early in World War II to wage the war in the Pacific.

In April 1942, U.S. military forces in the Pacific Theatre were divided into two commands: the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) under Army General Douglas MacArthur; and the Pacific Ocean Areas (POA) under Navy Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Each had command of all U.S. armed forces assigned to his area. The authority of the POA Commander-in-Chief (CINCPOA) was technically separate from that of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC), but Admiral Nimitz was assigned to both positions and bore the title CINCPAC/CINCPOA.

Efforts to establish a unified command for the entire Pacific area of responsibility proved impossible during the war. The divergent interests of the Army and the Navy precluded the subordination of either of the two principal commanders in the Pacific Theatre. When the war ended in September 1945, the command arrangement carried forward with Fleet Admiral Nimitz as CINCPAC/CINCPOA and General of the Army MacArthur as Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Forces Pacific (CINCAFPAC).

Command arrangements after World War II were defined by the "Outline Command Plan"—in a sense, the first Unified Command Plan (UCP)—approved by President Harry S. Truman on 14 December 1946 and authorized by the National Security Act of 1947. The plan called for the establishment of seven unified combatant commands as "an interim measure for the immediate postwar period."[3]

The first three unified commands were established in the Pacific. The Joint Chiefs of Staff implementing directive of 16 December 1946 established the Far East Command (FECOM), Pacific Command (PACOM), and Alaskan Command (ALCOM) effective 1 January 1947. The commands, their areas of responsibility, and their missions were as follows:

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was appointed CINCFE; Army Major General Howard A. Craig was assigned as CINCAL. U.S. Navy Admiral John H. Towers was designated CINCPAC. At the time of appointment, he was serving as Admiral Nimitz' direct successor as CINCPAC/CINCPOA. Admiral Towers retained his position as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet; his title was abbreviated CINCPACFLT to avoid confusion with the newly established Pacific Command. Headquarters for both CINCPAC and CINCPACFLT were located at Makalapa, Pearl Harbor, in the Territory of Hawai'i.

PACOM's original geographic area of responsibility ranged from Burma and the eastern Indian Ocean to the west coast of the Americas. Following a 1949 review of missions and deployments of U.S. forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff revised the Unified Command Plan on 16 February 1950. The Volcano Islands were transferred to FECOM's area of responsibility; likewise, responsibility for South Korea was transferred from FECOM to PACOM. The duty of protecting the Panama Canal remained assigned to Commander in Chief, Atlantic Command (CINCLANT); one year later, however, the Western approaches to the Canal would be reassigned to CINCPAC.

The Korean War

The outbreak of the Korean War and subsequent developments in the Far East tested the U.S. unified command structure in the Pacific. Although General MacArthur, as CINCFE, had been relieved of responsibility for South Korea, early U.S. reaction to North Korea's invasion of the South on 25 June 1950 came through his command. On 10 July, at the request of the United Nations, President Truman directed General MacArthur to establish the United Nations Command (UNC) for the purpose of directing operations against North Korean forces. U.S. forces assigned to FECOM were assigned to UNC with General MacArthur designated Commander-in-Chief, UNC (CINCUNC). The primary responsibility of CINCFE, however, remained the defense of Japan. During the war, CINCPAC was ordered to support CINCUNC/CINCFE.

With CINCFE focused on combat operations during the Korean War, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, over strong objection from FECOM, transferred the Mariana, Bonin and Volcano Islands to PACOM. In late 1951, PACOM was also assigned responsibility for the Philippines, the Pescadores, and Formosa (Taiwan).

Reorganization of 1956

The new Unified Command Plan approved by Secretary of Defense Charles Wilson on 21 June 1956 produced significant changes to the command structure in the Pacific. ALCOM would remain as a unified command because of its strategic location, retaining its mission for the ground defense of the Alaskan region. Its other responsibilities, however, were reduced: the duty for protection of sea communications in Alaskan waters was assumed by PACOM. The responsibilities of the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) would be likewise expanded to include the air defense of Alaska and the Northeast.

UCP 1956 also disestablished FECOM as a separate unified command. U.S. military deployments to Japan and Korea were decreasing after the end of Japanese reconstruction and the Korean War. The JCS, therefore, believed that the divided command structure in the Pacific should be abolished and FECOM's responsibility reassigned to PACOM. A subsequent outline plan to disestablish FECOM and transfer its responsibilities was approved by SECDEF and the JCS effective 1 July 1957. Under the plan, two subordinate unified commands under CINCPAC were established: Commander, U.S. Forces Japan (COMUSJAPAN) and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea (COMUSKOREA). The latter was dual-hatted as CINCUNC.

The UCP further specified that no unified commander would exercise direct command of any of its Service components or subordinate commands. As such, Admiral Felix Stump gave up direct command of the Pacific Fleet, delegating the responsibility of CINCPACFLT to his Deputy, Admiral Maurice E. Curts. CINCPAC's staff was thereafter separated from CINCPACFLT's staff, and moved from Pearl Harbor to a new headquarters building (the former Aiea Naval Hospital) at Camp H.M. Smith. Service components for the Army and Air Force—U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) and U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)--were also assigned to PACOM.

The Vietnam War

Command over U.S. forces engaged in the Vietnam War was designated by CINCPAC to three subordinate commands. U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (USMACV), activated 8 February 1962 to direct U.S. support to South Vietnam's military forces, largely controlled all U.S. forces and operations within South Vietnam. Naval gunfire support and air strikes on targets in Vietnam, however, were delegated to PACFLT and the U.S. 7th Fleet. PACAF and PACFLT were responsible for conducting air and naval operations against North Vietnam and Laos. Control of B-52s employed to conduct air strikes against targets in South Vietnam remained under the Strategic Air Command.

Command Adjustments, 1971-1979

A new Unified Command Plan was approved in 1971. Effective 1 January 1972, the Pacific Command assumed responsibility for the Indian Ocean and the countries of southern Asia extending westward to the eastern border of Iran (which then fell under EUCOM's responsibility).[3] The Alaskan Command transferred responsibility for the Aleutian Islands and parts of the Arctic Ocean to PACOM, as well. ALCOM would remain a distinct unified command until it was disestablished by another Unified Command Plan on 1 July 1975. An amendment to this plan on 1 May 1976 adjusted PACOM's boundaries yet again. The amendment gave CINCPAC responsibility for the entire Indian Ocean to the east coast of Africa, including the Gulfs of Aden and Oman and all of the Indian Ocean Islands excepting the Malagasy Republic. This decision expanded PACOM's area of responsibility across more than 50% of the Earth's surface—an area of over 100 million square miles.

U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) was disestablished 31 December 1974 as part of a bid by the Army to reduce its headquarters. The much smaller U.S. Army CINCPAC Support Group (CSG) took over USARPAC's duty to assist and coordinate with CINCPAC Headquarters and PACOM service components on Army matters. In 1979, U.S. Army Western Command (WESTCOM) was activated as the new Army component for PACOM. WESTCOM was redesignated USARPAC effective 30 August 1990.

Unified Command Plan of 1983

The establishment of U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) for the Middle East on 1 January 1983 resulted in reassignment of responsibilities from PACOM to the new command. CENTCOM took responsibility for Afghanistan and Pakistan from PACOM; the India-Pakistan border became the boundary between CENTCOM and PACOM.

Despite the adjustment, UCP 1983 actually increased the size of PACOM's AOR. The Joint Chiefs of Staff assigned responsibility over China to PACOM, presuming that increased political-military contacts between China and the United States could best be handled at the unified command level. A similar decision was made to assign North Korea to PACOM, reasoning that unifying responsibility for the Korean Peninsula under CINCPAC would greatly enhance his ability to make the transition from peace to war should he be called upon to do so. Madagascar was assigned to PACOM because the island impinged directly upon CINCPAC's mission of protecting U.S. sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean. Responsibility for Mongolia and Alaska also fell to CINCPAC under the new plan.

At the request of then-CINCPAC Admiral William Crowe, his title and that of his command were changed to USCINCPAC and USPACOM, respectively.

Boundary adjustment and Alaskan Command, 1989

On 26 June 1989, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney endorsed the recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to reassign the Gulfs of Aden and Oman from USPACOM to USCENTCOM's area of responsibility. Though a modest shift, the change meant that the new boundary between the commands would no longer cut through the Strait of Hormuz. At the same time, the Alaskan Command (ALCOM) was reestablished as a subordinate command to PACOM.

Transfers of responsibility, 2002–2006

Under UCP 2002, effective 21 January, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assigned Antarctica to USPACOM. Secretary Rumsfeld also approved assignment of responsibility for Russia to EUCOM with USPACOM in a supporting role for the Russian Far East. Later reassignments under the 2004 and 2006 plans placed the entire Seychelles Archipelago in the USCENTCOM area of responsibility and extended U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM)'s boundary westward to encompass all of the Aleutian islands, respectively.

On 24 October 2002, the Secretary issued a memorandum declaring that the title "Commander in Chief" should only refer to the President of the United States. Effective that date, all combatant commanders deleted "in Chief" from their titles. USCINCPAC was redesignated Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM).

Transfer of Alaskan Command, 2014

In a move to streamline command and control of forces in Alaska and integrate forces in defense of North America, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel approved the transfer of ALCOM to USNORTHCOM.


No. Image Commander Tenure
1. Admiral John H. Towers, USN 1 January 1947 – 28 February 1947
2. Admiral Louis E. Denfeld, USN 28 February 1947 – 3 December 1947
3. Admiral DeWitt C. Ramsey, USN 12 January 1948 – 30 April 1949
4. Admiral Arthur W. Radford, USN 30 April 1949 – 10 July 1953
5. Admiral Felix B. Stump, USN 10 July 1953 – 31 July 1958
6. Admiral Harry D. Felt, USN 31 July 1958 – 30 June 1964
7. Admiral Ulysses S. Grant Sharp, Jr., USN 30 June 1964 – 31 July 1968
8. Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., USN 31 July 1968 – 1 September 1972
9. Admiral Noel A.M. Gayler, USN 1 September 1972 – 30 August 1976
10. Admiral Maurice F. Weisner, USN 30 August 1976 – 31 October 1979
11. Admiral Robert L.J. Long, USN 31 October 1979 – 1 July 1983
12. Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr., USN 1 July 1983 – 18 September 1985
13. Admiral Ronald J. Hays, USN 18 September 1985 – 30 September 1988
14. Admiral Huntington Hardisty, USN 30 September 1988 – 1 March 1991
15. Admiral Charles R. Larson, USN 1 March 1991 – 11 July 1994
16. Admiral Richard C. Macke, USN 19 July 1994 – 31 January 1996
17. Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, USN 31 January 1996 – 20 February 1999
18. Admiral Dennis C. Blair, USN 20 February 1999 – 2 May 2002
19. Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, USN 2 May 2002 – 26 February 2005
20. Admiral William J. Fallon, USN 26 February 2005 – 12 March 2007
21. Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN 26 March 2007 – 19 October 2009
22. Admiral Robert F. Willard, USN 19 October 2009 – 9 March 2012
23. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, USN 9 March 2012 – 27 May 2015
24. Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN 27 May 2015 – present


  1. CDRUSPACOM. "U.S. Pacific Command Guidance" (PDF). USPACOM Official Website. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  2. CDRUSPACOM. "History of United States Pacific Command". USPACOM Official Website. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "History of the Unified Command Plan: 1946-2012"

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