Indo-Pacific View

Harry B. Harris, Jr. Admiral,

Dear Readers,

Welcome to Indo-Pacific Defense FORUM’s second-quarter edition for 2018, which explores how strategic perspectives shape responses by militaries and security organizations to challenges in the region. This is my farewell edition, as I retire from the U.S. Navy on June 1. I would like to extend a warm welcome to my successor, Adm. Phil Davidson, who became the 25th U.S. Pacific Command Commander as this issue went to print.

This edition opens with a success story in the Philippines that should also serve as a wake-up call for all Indo-Pacific governments and militaries. Many leaders have long feared that fighters affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may attempt to set up an Islamic state in the region as ISIS is driven out of the Middle East. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recognized such an evolving threat in the southern Philippines at least a year before it materialized a year ago when militants linked to ISIS seized Marawi City. The AFP fought for five months to regain control of the region, succeeding in late October 2017, after killing more than 900 militants and slowing the spread of violent extremism in the Indo-Pacific.

Even as the AFP remains vigilant, the suppressed insurgency in the Philippines illustrates the need for a whole-of-nation approach to security, which involves military and civilian cooperation, as well as transnational partnerships and multilateral endeavors.

In an accompanying article, retired AFP Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista discusses the merits of the Philippine Internal Peace and Security Plan, known as Bayanihan, which is a shared concept of security that entails active participation from all stakeholders to pursue peace and security. As threats move beyond the control of any single nation, Gen. Bautista suggests that the precepts and lessons of Bayanihan could be applied more globally.

Beyond the Philippines, this issue provides other strategic perspectives percolating across the region. Although nations are cooperating in managing the Arctic, for example, increasing competition for resources and militarization of the region could pose security risks. Meanwhile, as Sri Lanka rises as a commerce and naval hub, potential security threats such as narcotics trafficking and related crimes are also on the rise. Another article highlights opportunities for special operations forces to foster stability and peace in
Pacific island nations.

I look forward to continuing working with many of you in the region. I hope you find this edition insightful and thought-provoking, and I know Adm. Davidson will enjoy receiving your comments. Please contact the FORUM staff at with your perspectives.

All the best,

HarryHarrisSigHarry B. Harris, Jr.

Admiral, USN

Commander, U.S. Pacific Command