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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2021

Adm. John C. Aquilino, U.S. Forces Japan & 5th Air Force Change of Command Speech



Good morning ladies and gentlemen. 

Thank you General Wilsbach for your remarks and for your exceptional leadership.

Minister Nakayama, The Honorable Kihara, General Sugiyama, General Marumo, General Suzuki, Chargé Greene, Ambassadors, fellow Flag and General Officers, VIPs, senior civilian and military leaders, distinguished visitors – thank you for joining us today.

I’m honored to be here to recognize two outstanding leaders and to be back here to reaffirm our commitment to our Alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific region – and across the globe. 

The relationship between U.S. Forces Japan and the Japanese Joint Staff, and the broader Government of Japan, represents one of the strongest bonds we have in our militaries globally. It reflects the deep commitment to our Alliance, which is fortified by the tremendous work of our service men and women alongside our host nation friends. What you do on a routine basis preserves the rules-based international order that protects our way of life. So thank you for what you continue to do.

Our alliance represents the shared political and cultural values, people-to-people ties, and mutual trust that is central to our enduring friendship. The security challenges in this theater are numerous, and our alliance with Japan is pivotal in confronting them.

Opposing unilateral action seeking to undermine Japan’s administration of the Senkaku Islands, rejecting the PRC’s unlawful South China Sea maritime claims, and promoting peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are all complex issues our alliance contends with together. Additionally, our trilateral cooperation with the Republic of Korea works toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And as members of the Quad, including Australia and India, we are uniquely positioned to help lead the region out of crises and help move it toward the more positive, free, and open vision we all seek.

Under General Schneider’s leadership, we’ve made it clear that we’re committed to the Alliance and that we remain prepared to fight alongside and defend our allies using all of our capabilities to preserve a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

Kevin, your accomplishments while in command strengthened cooperation, increased interoperability, and expanded the scope of bilateral exercises and operations. Your work and the results you obtained are even more impressive considering you did it all in the midst of a dynamic global pandemic. 

Lori – your commitment to helping military families is an example for all to emulate, and the nation is thankful for your continued sacrifice and support.   

Kevin and Lori – we thank you for your unbelievable service and dedication to the Alliance and we wish you the best of luck as you head to D.C.

Ricky and Charlotte, we welcome you both to the team and back to Japan. And Ricky, congratulations on your promotion.

At Air Force District Washington, you gained valuable insight into the resourcing needs and challenges associated with leading thirty-three thousand personnel. And from your previous time here as Vice Commander of the 18th Wing, you understand the importance and complexity of this theater.

Such experiences will enable you to take good care of our most valuable resource – our people – to accomplish the mission, as U.S. Forces Japan is a vital part of a ready, combined Joint Force distributed west of the International Date Line that is capable of fully integrating with all of our allies and partners.

We will continue to present an integrated deterrence posture to our adversaries, making them think twice before they take any action that threatens a free, safe, prosperous, and open Indo-Pacific.

Ricky, on behalf of all the service men and women of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, I wish you and Charlotte all the best during your time in command.

Thank you.

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