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NEWS | May 28, 2019

Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider, 2019 JAAGA Annual Convention, Commemorative Lecture, 13 May 2019

(Opening Remarks)

Ladies and Gentlemen, commanders, distinguished guests, and friends – Mina-san, kon-nichi-wa. Honjitsu wa, hajimete JAAGA sokai de, tai-setsu na Nichi-Bei kankei nitsuite hanasu-kikai wo itadaki. Kokoro-kara kansha moshiage masu.

(Translation: Good afternoon, everyone. Today is my first opportunity to speak at the JAAGA conference about the important US-Japan relationship – I am very thankful!)

It is my distinct honor to deliver the 2019 Japan-America Air Force Goodwill Association Annual Convention Commemorative Lecture this afternoon.  It is an auspicious moment to reflect on the Heisei era and celebrate the start of the new REIWA (Lay-wa) Era.  As we stand alongside our Japanese partners in celebrating the new Emperor, we are posturing ourselves to meet the opportunities and challenges of the new era.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the security threats in the Indo-Pacific region and provide my perspective on how the men and women of Fifth Air Force are working alongside KOKU JIEITAI to advance bilateral and interoperable air, space, and cyberspace capabilities in support of the defense of Japan.

Before we begin, I would like to congratulate General SAITO, the 33rd Japan Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff, for his appointment as the new JAAGA president.  I would also like to extend my appreciation for the contributions of former President, General IWASAKI, over the past three years.

The dedication of the men and women of the JAAGA organization and their continued service that improves and strengthens the US-Japan Alliance can readily be seen in all the events they organize and support.  

Events such as key leader engagements in the United States and Japan, which influence both of our nations’ defense policies.  We also value other opportunities to engage, such as support to the annual Special Olympics in Japan, several camaraderie-building golf competitions with participation from the US Air Force, KOKU JIEITAI and JAAGA, and, the annual JAAGA Awards program that honors the US Air Force and KOKU JIEITAI members, promoting the importance of the US-Japan alliance. 

(Transition) I am excited to be here tonight and I am excited to be living in Japan for the third time. Japan holds a special place in my memory and my heart.

(Personal History/Experience)

When I was a young boy, my father was a naval officer stationed in Yokosuka.  Some of my earliest memories as a kid were of living in Japan – we lived in a housing area near Nagai, and I used to ride my bike to the local village and buy plastic model airplane kits.  Even though my dad was in the Navy, it was apparent early on that I was not going to follow exactly in his footsteps.  With that said… I would have never guessed that I would come back to Japan later in life as an Air Force officer to fly real airplanes.

In November 1993, I was a young fighter pilot on my second operational tour assigned to Misawa Air Base.  Misawa enjoyed a reputation for being one of the most tactically advanced F-16 units in the Air Force, and we benefitted from the close relationship with the KOKU JIEITAI and the great training opportunities in northern Japan.

Although North Korea continued to provoke on the Korean Peninsula, during the 1990s, the Indo-Pacific region was relatively peaceful, and many countries developed and prospered.  During this period, Japan established itself as a leader in international development across the Indo-Pacific region, contributing to regional peace and stability.  China was one of the biggest beneficiaries of these peaceful conditions and leveraged the stability in the region to become the second largest economy in the world.

(Transition) While I am thrilled to be serving in Japan once again, the security situation has changed significantly since my time at Misawa, and the new environment presents significant challenges for both our nations. China, North Korea, and Russia have the potential to upset the peace and stability we have enjoyed and benefited from for decades.  This is why our Alliance is more vital than ever.

And, if there is one area where I need your valuable advocacy, it is that of readiness.  As I’ll highlight, threats in this region are evolving rapidly, and our forces need to train and exercise to their fullest capability to deter threats, and if deterrence fails, win in conflict. I will circle back to this key area where I could use your help, but first, let me provide you with information you can use in your discussions with leaders and communities.

(Security Environment)

The US National Defense Strategy drives us to think about great power competition and our long-term capabilities needed to compete, deter, and win in the Indo-Pacific.

Both our National Defense Strategy and Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines acknowledge an increasingly complex global security environment and efforts to shift the balance of power in the international arena.  Overt challenges to the free and open international order and the re-emergence of strategic competition by China and Russia characterize the new security environment.

First, China is the greatest, long-term challenge.  Beijing is trying to change the very international rules-based order from which they have benefited.

China’s increasingly provocative behavior in the Indo-Pacific, particularly the East and South China Seas, concerns us – and it should concern the rest of the world.  Between 2013 and 2018, China increased its air and sea incursions into the South China Sea twelvefold.  Within those five years, it also increased deployments of offensive and defensive weapon systems to the South China Sea by the same order of magnitude. 

For the East China Sea, the KOKU JIEITAI continues to conduct scrambles and intercepts against foreign intrusions.  KOKU JIEITAI intercepts peaked in 2016 with nearly 1200 scrambles.  Since then, breeches have remained constant around 900 per year.  Most all of these scrambles are against Chinese aircraft.

The trajectory of China’s military spending is clear.  In just twenty years, China’s official defense budget soared from roughly $20 billion in 1998 to $170 billion in 2018, with a 7.5 percent increase in defense spending in 2019.

China devotes these funds to aggressive military modernization and advanced weaponry development, including nuclear-capable long-range bombers and continued testing and development of 5th-generation aircraft, hypersonics, aircraft carriers, and counter-space and cyber technologies.

China’s force projection inside and outside the East and South China Seas disrespects and undermines our rules-based international order and threatens regional stability and security. With that said, despite their actions, engagement is critical to designing the solutions that will help promote and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.  The US will continue to cooperate with China where we can, but as the National Defense Strategy makes clear, we will compete where we must.

Although China is our greatest challenge, North Korea remains our most immediate threat.  While our diplomats negotiate for the denuclearization of North Korea, its possession of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and chemical-biological capabilities continue to pose a threat to the US, Japan and our allies…as evidenced by the two sets of missile launches last week.  This serves as a reminder that despite the long period from November 2017 to May of 2019 where no provocations occurred…the fact remains that the DPRK has taken no demonstrable steps to curb its nuclear arsenal or reduce its robust missile capability. And, we’re watching closely to see if this is the start of a new provocation cycle by KJU to seek attention on the world stage.

Lastly, Russia’s political, military, economic, and information efforts also affect Japan’s security and US interests.

Russia is aggressively modernizing its military to gain an asymmetric advantage.  Russia plans to spend $28 billion to upgrade and modernize each leg of its strategic nuclear triad by 2020 and has already spent more than ten percent of its total military budget every year since 2011 on nuclear modernization efforts.

In March 2018, President Putin announced Russia’s development of six new strategic weapon systems – five of which are nuclear capable – including hypersonic systems capable of velocities up to ten times the speed of sound.  One of those hypersonic systems is expected to enter service this year.

In addition to their strategic and advanced weapons technology, some Russian space systems are intended to disrupt, degrade, and damage US satellites in orbit.  There is no question…Russia treats space as a warfighting domain and strives to gain military advantage over the United States and Allies.  Moscow has already fielded ground-based directed energy laser weapons and is developing air-based systems and additional novel counterspace capabilities to target our space-based missile defense sensors.  

Both China and Russia are developing sophisticated and deliberate cyber capabilities that can be used against the US and its allies. And both nations are already employing their malign cyber capabilities to operate in the “gray zone” between peace and war.

(Transition) Because of the clear threats to peace and security in this region, the US Air Force and KOKU JIEITAI must maintain the highest levels of readiness to respond at a moment’s notice not only to crisis, but also to fight and win in complex threat scenarios.

(USAF and Fifth Air Force Efforts)

To address all of the challenges, I am laser focused on supporting Pacific Air Forces and US Indo-Pacific Command in strengthening the US military advantage and projecting the right posture to ensure a Free and Open Indo-Pacific over the short- and long-term.

We continue to work with PACAF on innovation and experimentation, multi-domain command and control, theater logistics, and how best to implement conditions-based authorities.  Efforts that will enable our success in contested and degraded operational environments.

Ultimately, our readiness feeds deterrence… the surest way to prevent war is to be fully prepared to win one.  Fifth Air Force forces are evolving their critical thinking and training to prepare for a more complex threat environment in the Indo-Pacific region.

For example, last month, Fifth Air Force began its first iteration of Exercise VILIGIANT SHOGUN.  When fully matured, VIGILANT SHOGUN will be an operational-to-tactical level exercise designed to exercise wing connectivity to higher headquarters and practice operational-to-tactical level tasks.  The exercise will provide invaluable opportunities to define and refine theater C2 processes.

During the same period, all three Fifth Air Force Wings supported Exercise RESILIENT TYPHOON.  US Air Force Airmen and aircraft from across Japan, Hawaii, and Alaska joined together at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to participate in a dispersal exercise throughout Micronesia.

The exercise was designed to validate our ability to adapt to rapidly developing events while maintaining readiness in support of allied and partner nations throughout the region.  Additionally, the exercise tested our ability to execute flight operations from multiple locations – separating via dispersal, recovery, and then rapidly resuming operations across multiple airports and airfields.

New exercises like these ensure our forces are ready for a potential contingency with little notice and that we can move more fluidly across the theater to seize, retain and exploit the initiative in any environment.

The training and operations we conduct are directly tied to our lethality and readiness; without such readiness, we will fail in our mission to defend Japan and its people and to preserve regional peace and security.

(Transition) However, strengthening US Air Force Airmen’s readiness and lethality is only part of the equation.  Our network of alliances and partnerships remains the backbone of global security.  Mutually beneficial alliances and partnerships are crucial to our strategy, providing a durable, asymmetric strategic advantage that no competitor or rival can match …The US-Japan alliance has been the foundation by which that security and stability has been built upon in the Indo-Pacific region.

(US – Japan Alliance) 

For over 70 years, the US-Japan Alliance has been the cornerstone of stability, security and economic prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and it will continue to serve that role in the future.

Our alliance is built on shared interests, shared values, and a steadfast commitment to security.  It serves as a beacon to those who value transparency in government, transparency in economic dealings, access to markets, access to all domains, as well as respect for and protection of national sovereignty.

And while the US-Japan Alliance has never been stronger – it has also never been more vital to this region than right now as we face increasingly difficult security challenges.

The strength of our alliance can be seen in the alignment of the US National Defense Strategy and Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines.  Both of our countries identify the need to prepare our forces to carry out flexible and strategic plans in every stage of crisis, from limited contingency operations to high-end conflict.

The US and Japan agree on the need to adapt multi-domain operations that combine capabilities in new domains—space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum—with traditional domains—land, sea and air.

The United States and Government of Japan recognize the increasing threats in non-traditional domains that are poised to fundamentally change the existing paradigm of national security, and highlight the need to streamline responses to “gray-zone” situations that threaten the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

The threats around Japan have grown extremely fast, but our leaders and professional Airmen have not simply been passive observers.

(Transition) Over the past four years, the level of dedication and integration between our Airmen has skyrocketed.  This integration, evident in our accomplishments, bolstered our ability to support humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations as well as fight and win against a capable enemy.

(Bilateral Accomplishments)

The US forward positions some of its most advanced capabilities in Japan, a recognition of the importance of our Alliance, as well as providing us the opportunity to train as we fight.

Through bilateral and multilateral exercises such as KEEN EDGE, KEEN SWORD and COPE NORTH, our Airmen continue to build relationships now so, if called upon, we are prepared to fight and win against any adversary.

Tomo-ni tsyoku NARIMASHO! (Together we become stronger).

For example, in KEEN SWORD 2019, for the first time in recent history, Fifth Air Force and Japan’s Air Defense Command centrally coordinated and planned live-fly operations as a bilateral team, effectively executing parallel air tasking orders and tracking and disseminating the status and movement of our forces.

COPE NORTH 2019 provided a real-world training opportunity for the US, Japanese and Australian forces to react to a no-notice threat.  In three days, our Airmen went from exercise planning, to contingency response, and then right back into exercise execution.  Air Support Command’s C-130 Hercules was the first aircraft to return to Guam following Super Typhoon Wutip (whoo-tip).  Within two hours after landing, 70 US personnel deployed on the KOKU JIEITAI C-130 to Tinian to resume exercise execution.  And, that was only the first week of the exercise!

When you look at the combat capabilities exercised in the scenario—air superiority, air interdiction, ISR, electronic warfare, tactical airlift, air refueling—all of these are critical capabilities  for our nations to be able to deter conflict, and in the event that deterrence fails, these are war-winning capabilities that will help us prevail.

Exercises provide our forces the opportunity to evolve tactics, techniques and procedures to prepare for the future, however, over the past year, we have also had our share of crisis events where our daily cooperation and training had a profound impact on real-world operations.

The Indo-Pacific is home to some of the most damaging natural disasters in recorded history, and last year, on September 28, a powerful magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Indonesia triggering a tsunami with waves up to 6 meters, devastating coastal areas.

As part of an international relief effort, the US responded by sending C-130s and our Contingency Response Group out of Guam, and Japan sent its C-130s and supplies to assist the effort.

Even responding to a regional disaster, US and Japan C-130s were based in the same location, which allowed us to partner on logistics and the distribution of USAID supplies to affected areas.

Unfortunately, during the last few months, both the U.S. and KOKU JIEITAI have felt the loss of our Airmen in aircraft mishaps.

While events like these have significant impact on families, units, and readiness, they also highlight our willingness and capability to rapidly respond and support each other in times of crisis.  During the past few weeks, my personal conversations with senior leaders from the KOKU JIEITAI, Japan Self-Defense Force and Ministry of Defense have reinforced the critical nature of our friendship and our ability to coordinate operations. 

Along with the multitude of ongoing exercises, real-world operations and crisis response, our forces continue to conduct subject matter exchanges to further our common understanding of critical capabilities, concepts and threats in the region.

Last year, Fifth Air Force hosted the first-ever bilateral contingency response exchange.  A combined 50 subject matter experts attended from the 36th Contingency Response Group and KOKU JIEITAI across Japan’s Air Staff Office, Air Defense Command, Air Support Command, and Air Tactics Development Wing.  The participants shared information on topics ranging from airfield management to medical and air traffic control to increase interoperability and the capacity to rapidly provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response.  

We continue to partner at COPE NORTH to assist the KOKU JIEITAI in building out their contingency response team and develop interoperable capabilities.

Annually, Fifth Air Force and Japan's Air Defense Command continue to hold the Far East Tactics and Analysis Team bilateral working group at the Fifth Air Force headquarters, where US and Japanese intelligence analysts and operators meet to analyze adversary tactics in order to develop US and Japan tactics, techniques, and procedures critical to maintaining the advantage over potential foes across the region.

(Transition) All the exercises, operations and exchanges have built our interoperability and relationship into what it is today.  Despite the impressive improvements we’ve made, there is still more that can and should be done.  

(Looking Forward)

As we look to the future, I am excited about the opportunities to enhance and strengthen integrated air operations, information and intelligence sharing, space, cyber, logistics and civil engineering, all of which contribute to the interoperability between our forces.

Pacific Air Forces is actively working to integrate F-35s into training and exercises that will prepare us for a high-end fight.  Learning how to integrate 4th and 5th Generation assets now will allow us take full advantage of the F-35’s advanced technologies in future highly contested environments.

But, 5th Gen assets won’t win a war on their own.  Success against peer competitors isn’t only about adding capabilities, types, or numbers of aircraft, it’s about changing how we do business.

Exercises like RESILIENT TYPHOON are changing the way the US Air Force will maneuver its forces in conflict.  As we develop and hone concepts such as agile combat employment, we’ll continue to work with the KOKU JIEITAI to share lessons learned for the development of tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure our forces can maneuver with speed and agility.  

At the end of this month, Fifth Air Force will host the inaugural Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Symposium at Yokota Air Base.  The event is intended to bring theater ISR stakeholders to a common understanding of current and future capabilities.  Members from the US Air Force, US Navy, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will participate to ensure a comprehensive, joint approach to ISR interoperability.

Fifth Air Force and the KOKU JIEITAI will continue to leverage lessons learned and adapt capabilities for developing air tasking orders and dynamic targeting through engagement between the US and Japanese Air Operation Centers.  The relationships built now will later ensure both air forces can effectively coordinate air operations to outpace any threat, or rapidly respond to a disaster in the region.

As we look to the future, we will continue the evolution of the US-Japan alliance into one postured to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment, and one that incorporates other trusted allies and partners in the region.

Both the US and Japanese governments understand that their alliance alone cannot achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific while also managing the security challenges in Northeast Asia.

In addition to the already strong relationship Japan enjoys with Australia, Japan is making strides to build new relationships in the region.  For example, Japan conducted its first bilateral air mobility exercise with India last year, followed by observing COPE INDIA 2018 last December.

In a region characterized by extreme natural disasters and growing security concerns, Japan plays a vital role in developing partner nation capabilities.

Since 1986, the US military has been working to build a joint force. While we maintain service cultural integrity, we must be able to implement effective multi-domain operations and execute integrated joint operations. I can’t tell you it is easy overcoming our service cultures, but the key to winning in conflict is a multi-national, joint operation.  As we look to the future of the US-Japan alliance and our network of Indo-Pacific partners, it’s vital that we adapt our training and exercises to include our friends in the region and our joint services.

(Transition) In closing, events likes these are important and provide an opportunity for us to look back and take pride in how far we’ve come as well as look to the future to see what more we can accomplish together. 

(Closing – READINESS)

However, our forces can’t reach their fullest potential without access to the most robust training opportunities.

There are more than 50,000 U.S. service members here in Japan who will fight and die defending this country if called upon by our nation’s leaders.  We are Allies, Friends and Partners.

The security challenges in this region require realistic training in order to ensure the highest levels of readiness.  It is not enough for the US to have a presence in Japan; we must also be ready for crisis and conflict at all times.  Being combat-credible relies on our readiness.  We must continue to train and exercise for the most complex threats scenarios across the spectrum of conflict in order to ensure our forces have the capability to compete, deter, and win.

Maintaining readiness requires that we train rigorously to a high standard necessary to fight and win.  We understand that our training and operations have impacts on the local community, and we do everything we can to mitigate those impacts, sometimes at the expense of our ability to maintain readiness.

While we work very closely with the Government of Japan to manage these issues carefully and try to balance training and readiness with local community concerns, we are very grateful for your advocacy in educating government leaders at all levels and local communities on the role of the US forces in Japan, the changing security environment and what it takes for our forces to maintain their lethality and readiness.  

This a major concern for me and this is one area where I could use your advocacy. We will continue to discuss this topic and how we can make progress on communicating our need for readiness to various publics, but for now, let me end by saying…

As Airmen and leaders who have helped us get to where we are today, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to you all for past, present and future contributions to the US-Japan Alliance.

I look forward to continued dialogue on how we can evolve our training and exercises to prepare for future threats and ensure U.S. Air Force and KOKU JIEITAI readiness and integration reaches its fullest potential. 

I would like to thank General Tanii and the JAAGA administrative staff for coordinating this event and inviting me to deliver this evening’s Commemorative Lecture.

Go sei-cho, arigatou gozaimashita. (Thank you for your attention).


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