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Harry B. Harris, Jr.
Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN
Commander, United States Pacific Fleet
Place of birth Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1978 - present
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held United States Pacific Fleet
U.S. Sixth Fleet
and Striking and Support Forces NATO
JTF Guantanamo
Patrol & Reconnaissance Wing 1
Battles/wars Operation Attain Document III
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Odyssey Dawn
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Defense Superior Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star (2)
Air Medal (1 strike/flight)
Department of State Distinguished Honor Award

Harry Binkley Harris, Jr.[1] is a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who currently serves as Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet. He was promoted to the rank of four-star admiral upon taking command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii in 2013.[2] His prior position as vice admiral was serving as the Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[3] Harris' prior operational command was in 2011 when he was commander of the Sixth Fleet.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Harry B. Harris, Jr., was born in Yokosuka, Japan in 1956. His father was a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who married a Japanese woman.[4] After his family's return to the United States, Harris grew up in Tennessee and Florida, where he attended local public schools.[5]

Military service[edit | edit source]

Harris graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978. After flight training, he was designated as a Naval Flight Officer and assigned to Patrol Squadron FORTY FOUR (VP-44), homeported at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine where he flew the P-3C Orion, deploying throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean. His subsequent operational tours include assignment as a Tactical Action Officer on board USS Saratoga (CV-60), to include participation in the Achille Lauro incident and strikes against Libya (Operation Attain Document III[6]); Operations Officer in Patrol Squadron 4 (VP-4) at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, deploying to Southwest Asia during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm; and three tours with Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1/TF 57/TF 72, the latter tour as the wing's Commodore, homeported in Kami Seya, Japan and forward deployed to Manama, Bahrain for Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2002, he reported to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet in Manama, Bahrain, serving as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans, and Pol-Mil Affairs (N3/N5). He was responsible for the planning and execution of the Naval component’s portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began March 19, 2003.

His aviation command assignments include Patrol Squadron 46 (VP-46) at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, and Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 1/CTF57/CTF 72 at Kami Seya, Japan. Task Force 57 was heavily involved in Operation Enduring Freedom as squadrons and aircrews under his command flew nearly 1,000 P-3 and EP-3 surveillance and reconnaissance sorties over Afghanistan. Additional Flag Officer command assignments included Joint Task Force Guantanamo, U.S. Sixth Fleet, and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. While commanding Sixth Fleet, he was designated as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander for Operation Odyssey Dawn, the U.S.-led coalition operation against Libya.

Harris’ shore assignments include Aide and Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan in Yokosuka, Japan; three tours on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations to include two flag officer tours and a tour as a strategist in the Strategy and Concepts Branch; and Special Assistant/Chief Speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His Flag assignments are described below.

His educational assignments include selection for the Navy’s Harvard/Tufts Program, where he graduated with a Master's of Public Administration from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1992. Subsequently selected as an Arthur S. Moreau Scholar, he studied international relations and ethics of war at Oxford and Georgetown University, earning a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the latter in 1994. While at Georgetown, he was a Fellow in the School of Foreign Service. He was also a MIT Seminar 21 fellow.

Then-Vice Admiral Harris fires the noon cannon at the Peter and Paul Fortress in commemoration of Soviet Victory Day in 2010.

Admiral Harris has logged 4400 flight hours, including over 400 combat hours, in U.S. and foreign maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. He is the United States Navy's highest-ranking Japanese American.[7] His personal decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), the Defense Superior Service Medal (3 awards), the Legion of Merit (3 awards), the Bronze Star Medal (2 awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (4 awards), Air Medal (1 strike/flight), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal (5 awards), the Navy Achievement Medal, the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award and various campaign and unit decorations. He is a recipient of the Navy League’s Stephen Decatur Award for Operational Competence.

Director, Current Operations and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Division (OPNAV N31/34)[edit | edit source]

In August 2004, in his first Flag assignment, he reported to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations and was responsible for Navy current operations, the Navy Command Center, and anti-terrorism/force protection policy.

Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo[edit | edit source]

Rear Admiral Harry Harris presents the Defense Superior Service Medal to outgoing deputy commandant Brigadier General Edward Leacock.

In March 2006, he assumed command of Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba. His service was notable as he was in charge when three prisoners, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi, Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami and Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, died in the custody of US forces. Defense reported the deaths as suicides. Harris said at the time,

"I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." [8]

Harris ordered a full investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), which published its report in a heavily redacted version in August 2008.

A report, Death in Camp Delta, was published in December 2009 by the Center for Policy & Research of Seton Hall University School of Law, under the supervision of its director, Professor Mark Denbeaux, attorney for two Guantanamo detainees, criticizing numerous inconsistencies in the official accounts of these deaths.[9][10][11] The report suggested there had either been gross negligence or an attempt to cover up homicides, perhaps due to torture.

On 18 January 2010, Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine published a story suggesting that al-Salami, Al-Utaybi and Al-Zahrani had died as a result of accidental manslaughter during a torture session, and that the official account was a cover-up.[8] Horton had undertaken a joint investigation with NBC News, based on an account by four former guards at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. They suggested that the men had died at a black site, informally called "Camp No," used for interrogation including torture. I was located about a mile outside the regular camp boundaries.[8]

Director of Operations, U.S. Southern Command[edit | edit source]

From June 2007 to April 2008, Harris served as Director of Operations (J3) for U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Florida. He was involed in planning for Operation Willing Spirit [12] (the rescue of American hostages held hostage in Colombia).

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N6)[edit | edit source]

He returned to the Pentagon to serve as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Communication Networks (OPNAV N6) and the Deputy Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Navy) until November 2009.

Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet[edit | edit source]

In November 2009, Harris assumed command of the U.S. 6th Fleet and the Striking and Support Forces NATO. He concurrently served as the Joint Force Maritime Component commander, Naples; deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa. In 2011, he was designated as the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander for Operation Odyssey Dawn, the U.S.-led coalition operation against Libya.

Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[edit | edit source]

In October 2011, he assumed the position of Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In this capacity, he served as the Chairman's direct representative to the Secretary of State. He is also the designated U.S. roadmap Monitor for the Middle East Peace Process.

Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet[edit | edit source]

Harris was promoted to admiral and assumed command of the United States Pacific Fleet on October 16, 2013.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1]
  2. McAvoy, Audrey (October 16, 2013). "New commander takes over U.S. Pacific Fleet". Honolulu Star Advertiser. http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/breaking/228067141.html?id=228067141. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  3. "U.S. Navy Official Web Site". US Department of the Navy. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/bio.asp?bioID=136. 
  4. "Harry Harris an admiral?". Class News. USNA Class of 1978. 29 February 2008. http://www.usna1978.org/?p=classnews&article=68. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  5. "Official biography: Harry Harris". US Department of Defense. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/navybio.asp?bioID=136. 
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_in_the_Gulf_of_Sidra_(1986)
  7. Chief of Naval Personnel. "Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Navy". Navy Diversity Directorate (N134). Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/diversity/brochures/AsianPacificInUSN_Final.pdf. Retrieved 18 July 2012. "Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., a naval aviator who logged 4,400 flight hours and who became Commander, Sixth Fleet in 2009, is the Navy’s highest-ranking Japanese American." 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Guantánamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle". Harper’s Magazine. 18 January 2010. http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/01/hbc-90006368. 
  9. Seton Hall Law releases latest GTMO report, Death in Camp Delta
  10. Death in Camp Delta
  11. Mark P. Denbeaux Faculty Profile, Seton Hall University School of Law
  12. http://www.socso.southcom.mil/history.aspx
  13. McAvoy, Audrey (October 16, 2013). "New commander takes over U.S. Pacific Fleet". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/New-commander-takes-over-US-Pacific-Fleet-4899975.php. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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