Trump picks East Asia hand as Navy secretary

Trump picks East Asia hand as Navy secretary
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE on Wednesday nominated Philip Bilden, a businessman with experience in East Asia, as his secretary of the Navy. 

A White House statement said Bilden, a "highly successful business leader," would bring "strategic leadership, investment discipline, and Asia Pacific regional and cyber expertise" to his new role. 

“As Secretary of the Navy, Philip Bilden will apply his terrific judgement and top-notch management skills to the task of rebuilding our unparalleled Navy,” Trump said in a statement.  

“Our number of ships is at the lowest point that it has been in decades. Philip Bilden is the right choice to help us expand and modernize our fleet, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft, and ensure America’s naval supremacy for decades to come." 

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Trump has said he wants to build a 350-ship Navy, up from the current fleet of 274. 

Bilden reportedly served 10 years in the Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer, from 1986 to 1996. 

But the statement said Bilden has "longstanding trusted relationships with senior military leaders, particularly in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps."  

Bilden comes from a military family with four generations of seven Navy and Army officers, and his two sons serve in the Navy, it added. 

“I am deeply humbled and honored to serve as Secretary of the Navy," Bilden said in the statement. 

"Maintaining the strength, readiness, and capabilities of our maritime force is critical to our national security. If confirmed, I will ensure that our Sailors and Marines have the resources they need to defend our interests around the globe and support our allies with commitment and capability," he said. 

Bilden recently retired as a co-founding member and senior adviser of HarbourVest Partners, LLC, a leading global private equity investment management firm with institutional assets currently in excess of $42 billion, according to the White House. 

Trump has indicated that China will be a foreign policy focus, and he has already roiled its government by accepting a call from the leader of Taiwan, which China considers a rogue province. Defense Secretary James Mattis is also taking his first trip as Pentagon chief to East Asia, meeting with allies Japan and South Korea. 

Bilden serves on the board of visitors of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; the Asia Pacific Advisory Board and Dean’s board of advisors of Harvard Business School; the board of directors of the United States Naval Academy Foundation; and the board of trustees of the Naval War College Foundation, where he serves as the inaugural chairman of the Center for Cyber Conflict Studies, the statement said.