United States Hosts Indo-Pacific Military Leaders to Address Regional Security Challenges via Virtual Conference

Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces, speaks during the Chiefs of Defense (CHODS) conference at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters, Hawaii.

SUVASenior military leaders from 29 countries virtually joined the annual Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defense (CHOD) conference August 24-25. The conference, co-hosted by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, provided a forum for military leaders from throughout the region to address the mutual security challenges of today and tomorrow.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Cella said “The security of the Indo-Pacific is critical to the long-term freedom, stability, prosperity of all the nations of the region. The robust participation in this virtual conference demonstrated the commitment of our allies and partners in ensuring the security and stability though dialogue. I am grateful for the welcoming remarks Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama delivered, and the participation of Admiral Viliame Naupoto.”

The theme for this year’s conference was “Advancing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama opened the conference and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivered the keynote address.

“The growing security environment in the region demands – now more than ever – that we join together to build trust and collective strength to advance the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific for all nations,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, the Commander for USINDOPACOM. “As Indo-Pacific nations – regardless of population, land area, economic prosperity, or military strength – we all have a voice in shaping the international system.”

This year’s conference had the most participants in its 22 year-history — 29 countries — providing the opportunity for military leaders to connect virtually. “Together, we must achieve effective means to continue to advance the idea of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. To uphold international law, rules, and norms and to promote inclusive regional security frameworks, despite the growing challenges in the Indo-Pacific,” said Davidson.

Other speakers and topics for this year’s conference included U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome Adams on the national security implications of COVID-19; Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon on the national security implications of 5G mobile technologies; former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the role of multilateralism in advancing a Free and Open Indo-Pacific; and remarks from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.

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