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Samuel Locklear

11 - Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear
2012 Rank: 18

Commander, US Pacific Command
Key to the Obama administration’s “Asia rebalance” is increasing cooperation with allies across the vast region, a job that falls to Locklear as chief of US Pacific Command. Responsible for US defense interests in some 105 million square miles of land and sea in Asia, no one is more directly engaged in the region as a military officer and diplomat. A surface warfare officer, he commanded a carrier battle group, led Naval Forces Europe, Naval Forces Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command in Naples, Italy, before taking his current job. Under his watch, US ships will start forward deployments from Singapore and the Philippines, as well as increase visits to Vietnam as Marines increase their training cadre in Australia. Locklear spends little time at his headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii. Instead, he shuttles continually across the region to build bridges, explain US actions and serve as a conduit for allies trying to reach Washington. Locklear has also been trying to improve military-to-military relations with China to enhance mutual understanding. That effort has paid off with an increase in cooperative efforts. Those links with China, as well as his relationships with leaders from Japan, South Korea and elsewhere across the region, will be vital in the wake of Beijing’s decision to extend its air defense identification zone over nearly the entire East China Sea — and likely beyond. 

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