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NEWS | Feb. 5, 2019

Admiral Philip S. Davidson, U.S. Forces Japan & 5th Air Force Change of Command Speech as Delivered



Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  It is an honor to be here today and recognize these two outstanding leaders while also having the opportunity to acknowledge our cornerstone alliance with Japan.


I want to thank everyone for your attendance; each of you honors General Martinez and General Schneider with your presence here today. 


To all the family, distinguished guests, flag and general officers, welcome: Ambassador Hagerty, Ambassador Payton, The Honorable Kiyoto Tsuji, the esteemed members of the consular and diplomatic corps, General Brown, ADM Kawano, and all members of the Japanese Self Defense Force, senior civilian and military leaders, distinguished guests ... thank you.


Also, a special welcome to the Martinez and Schneider families –– thank you for your continued service and all you do to support our service members and their families in that lifetime of service.


I would also like to recognize and thank the Japanese Self Defense Forces and Coast Guard for their assistance in the search and rescue operations after the U.S. aviation mishap off the coast of Japan this past December.


Their support—your support—was immediate and life-saving.  Their efforts spanned more than 35,000 square miles of ocean and included more than 800 hours of air and maritime search operations.  I am personally grateful for your amazing professionalism and dedication in caring for our U.S. service members.  This is yet another example of the tremendous respect between our two militaries and the strength of our Alliance.


Of course, at the heart of that Japan-U.S. Alliance are the amazing Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.


They stand ready to deter our adversaries and fight and win should deterrence fail, in order to safeguard our interests and preserve our way of life.  As importantly, it strengthens and maintains the Japan – U.S. Alliance – an Alliance esteemed throughout the Indo-Pacific region.  Thank you for all that you do.


Today, of course, we are here to witness the transfer of accountability, responsibility, and authority from one commander to another. 


At the heart of their responsibilities is the important work the Commander, United States Forces Japan does to maintain and enhance our allies here in Japan.


For more than seven decades, the Japan-U.S. Alliance has been the cornerstone of stability and security in the Indo-Pacific.


We have faced many challenges throughout the past 70-plus years, but this region’s security and stability has endured for two reasons: the willingness and commitment of like-minded nations to work together for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the credibility of the combat power of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, working in conjunction with our key ally here in Japan.


Indeed, the peace and prosperity this region has enjoyed for decades were made possible through adherence to the principles of the rules-based international order.


Principles that value freedom, the rule of law, and economies free from force or coercion...principles that Prime Minister Abe himself continues to advance in his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. 


Japan and the United States share this vision, and we are seeing a regional convergence around the idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific, with Australia, New Zealand, and India all putting forth similar concepts or visions. And while each has minor differences, they are all based upon our shared values, our interests, and our mutual security concerns here in the region.


These helped Japan become one of the world’s most thriving democracies.  They are an example for others around the world to emulate.


We take great pride in what our two countries have accomplished together, and we look forward to continued friendship and cooperation in the years to come.


Here at U.S. Forces Japan, and under General Martinez’s leadership, the Alliance between Japan and the United States has grown stronger than ever.  It continues to be the cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and during a period of unprecedented change in the region, Jerry worked diligently with Japanese officials and the United States State Department to improve the effectiveness of our Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.


He has been at the forefront of this command’s efforts to advance bilateral and joint operations, ensuring we stand ready to respond to any crisis or contingency alongside our Japanese allies.


Through exercises like Keen Edge, Keen Sword, and Yama Sakura, Jerry enhanced the readiness of our forces and the interoperability between Japanese and U.S. forces, ensuring that shared doctrine, tactics, procedures, and systems that allow us to operate together seamlessly are practiced and contributing to our readiness.


He also led the transformation of the U.S. force structure here in Japan, ensuring we are able to fulfill our security obligations as described in the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security while at the same time reducing operations in the most heavily populated parts of the island and returning significant land to the Government of Japan.


In acknowledgement of the increasing importance of Japan and the Republic of Korea’s role in regional security, Jerry and U.S. Forces Japan helped lead our multinational efforts to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions in support of the State Department’s maximum pressure campaign against North Korea.


I wish to personally thank both Jerry and ADM Kawano for the roles they played in enabling our allies and partners, including the Republic of Korea, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to support the multinational enforcement efforts until the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea occurs.


On a more personal note, Jerry and his wife Kim have more than 32 years of service to the United States and the United States Air Force.  Their impact will continue to be felt throughout the Pacific and the United States Air Force for years to come.


Jerry, you were, without a doubt, the right leader at the right time to lead this incredible team at U.S. Forces Japan.  Thank you for being such an inspirational and visionary leader. 


On behalf of all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen within Indo-Pacific Command, I wish you and Kim nothing but the best in all of your future endeavors.


I want you to know that you have a home here in the Indo-Pacific and you’re welcome to return absolutely everywhere, certainly at my headquarters, and I know you that you are welcome here in Japan as well.


Though it is hard to say goodbye to the Martinez family, it’s my pleasure to welcome the Schneider’s to Japan. 


It’s telling that we send our finest officers to command in the Pacific, and it’s another indication of our continued commitment to Japan.


I have been blessed, myself, to work closely with Kevin over the past nine months as my chief-of-staff at U.S. Indo-PACOM, where I have been able to observe and experience first-hand his very noted leadership skills and incredible ability to solve complex problems.


Kevin has tremendous understanding of the current challenges to a free and open Indo-Pacific and the importance of facing those challenges alongside our allies and partners.


I am confident Kevin will continue to bolster the Japan-U.S. Alliance that Jerry and his predecessors have built, maintained and strengthened.


Kevin, it truly has been a pleasure working with you this past year.  Your tireless efforts in improving your formation and dedication to supporting our staff speak volumes to your character and leadership.


I know you and Lori will continue to champion our service members and this incredible Japan-United States Alliance.


May God bless the Martinez family... the Schneider family... all of our men and women in uniform … and may God continue to bless the people of Japan and the United States of America.


Thank you very much.

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