Senate panel advances nominees to lead US military in Asia-Pacific, North America

Senate panel advances nominees to lead US military in Asia-Pacific, North America
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The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday approved two four-star nominees to take over command of U.S. military operations in the Asia-Pacific and North America.

As part of a batch of 256 military nominations, the committee advanced by voice vote Adm. Philip Davidson to be commander of U.S. Pacific Command and Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy to be commander of U.S. Northern Command.

Davidson and O’Shaughnessy now move to the Senate floor for a final vote.

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The pair was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE earlier this month and had their confirmation hearing last week.

The brief, genial hearing touched on challenges the two will face, including North Korea, China and missile defense. 

Davidson would take command of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific at a time of heightened tensions and delicate diplomatic tangoing with North Korea. Davidson's tenure would also come as China bulks up its presence and expand its claims in the South China Sea.

Davidson currently heads the Navy Fleet Forces, while O’Shaughnessy leads Pacific Air Forces.

If confirmed, Davidson will take over for Adm. Harry Harris, who is retiring from active duty and has been nominated to become the new U.S. ambassador to Australia.

O’Shaughnessy, meanwhile, would take over for Gen. Lori Robinson, who is the first and only woman to lead a combatant command and the highest-ranking female officer in U.S. history. She is expected to retire.

As head of Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, O’Shaughnessy would be responsible for leading the Pentagon’s homeland defense efforts, including responding to natural disasters such as last year’s brutal hurricane season.

Northern Command is also responsible for the country’s homeland ballistic missile defense system that would be used to protect against, for example, an incoming nuclear weapon from North Korea.