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CHIPS Articles: Q&A with Adm. William J. Fallon

Q&A with Adm. William J. Fallon
Commander, U.S. Pacific Command
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2006
After Adm. Fallon delivered his remarks to the audience at WEST 2006 in San Diego, Calif., Jan.12, 2006, he responded to questions from the audience. WEST is sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and U.S. Naval Institute.

Q: You mentioned how important it is to work with the coalition. Are you concerned in the area of warfare and communications technology that we are going to leave the coalition behind?

A: The bottom line answer is, no. I am not concerned because there are capabilities, attributes and professional areas of expertise that people throughout the spectrum can bring to this challenge.

The most important tool in this challenge today is right here, right between our ears, and that is understanding the problem. It's the ability and willingness to think and apply ourselves to the challenge. The hardware things we can deal with. I don't care much that everybody has the same equipment. I do care that we can exchange information. Let people use the tools they have and just be able to exchange information.

Q: Is PACOM involved in anti-piracy efforts?

A: Piracy has been around for a long time. In the Asia-Pacific region, there are pirates operating. We have had a problem in the Malacca Strait for some time and in the Horn of Africa. Most of it is criminal activity that stems from loosely governed areas that are poorly patrolled, insecure and unstable. People have little in the way of material goods and see attractive targets float by and decide to do something about it. We are trying to encourage those nations that are in the neighborhood to cultivate their capabilities to deal with piracy.

I would point to the Malacca Strait as an area where we have seen a lot of progress in the last year alone. There are varying capabilities, and there is a lot of will, but the tools have been missing. Countries want to do something, but they have been deterred by lack of resources. Their leaders have taken this 'bull by the horns,' and there are active patrols in the Malacca Strait by four countries. They have agreed on an inaugural program, called 'Eyes in the Sky,' to try to increase their ability to patrol, and they are exchanging information.

The United States has just been given authority, by virtue of a waiver that the Secretary of State signed, to engage with the Indonesians to provide foreign military financing and to work with them to a degree that we could not have before to help increase their capabilities. The countries in the Malacca Strait have now agreed on a concept of operations and a construct for work. The levels of piracy in that area show trend lines going down.

Q: How is PACOM working with U.S. Northern Command on issues of maritime domain awareness and maritime security?

A: Commander USNORTHCOM Adm. Tim Keating has responsibility for the U.S. mainland. I have responsibility for the Hawaiian Islands and Pacific states in this regard. We are trying to have a seamless, integrated set of staffs, so that we have common procedures and common understanding of the challenges and needs. So that if some event occurs, we are not going to have any seams that we will have to bridge with a translator or procedure.

As a nation, we are growing our capability. The missile defense challenge is one of our big challenges. There is interceptor capability that is in the ground now in Alaska called Sea-Based X-Band Radar. We have cooperation ongoing with the Japanese for X-band high-defi nition radar that will be installed in Japan soon. This involves close collaboration between the United States and Japan.

As we 'game' through scenarios, we are trying to anticipate challenges that might threaten us and to make sure that we are working constantly to both understand and be able to act on a problem in a coherent fashion. Both Adm. Keating and I are confident that we are moving in the right direction.

Aboard USS Essex at sea - Commander, U.S. Pacifi c Command, Adm. William J. Fallon, visited USS Essex (LHD 2) March 2, 2006, to thank the crew and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines for their hard work during the Leyte humanitarian assistance, disaster relief efforts following the Feb. 17th landslide on Leyte Island. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class James Evans Coyle.
Aboard USS Essex at sea - Commander, U.S. Pacifi c Command, Adm. William J. Fallon, visited USS Essex (LHD 2) March 2, 2006, to thank the crew and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines for their hard work during the Leyte humanitarian assistance, disaster relief efforts following the Feb. 17th landslide on Leyte Island. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class James Evans Coyle.
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