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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2021

Lt. Gen. Ricky N. Rupp, U.S. Forces Japan & 5th Air Force Change of Command Speech



Minasan ohayōgozaimasu.

Minister Nakayama; Honorable Mr. Kihara; Lt Gen Uchikura; Maj Gen Kameoka; Maj Gen Yajima; Director Ichikawa; Director Oka; Honorable Ms Jan Adams; Honorable Ms Julia Longbottom; Charge de-Affairs Raymond Greene; ADM Aquilino; General Wilsbach; other general officers, senior enlisted, men and women of JSDF / USFJ / 5 AF, and other distinguished visitors, thank you for your attendance today.

Good morning everyone. What an extraordinary day and amazing experience.

I want to start by thanking Charlotte, Madi and Colton for all of the love and support they have provided me over the years.Charlotte and I celebrate 32 years this year. This is our 18th move, and 9th time we’ve had to cross an ocean for our next assignment. There aren’t enough words to express my gratitude.I cannot do anything without you. Thank you.

To all the family members and friends who are joining us virtually for this event, my enduring thanks, respect, and appreciation. It means a lot that you are here today. I truly appreciate your support.

I want to also thank the team at US Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force for pulling this event together.I know this was a big effort for the staffs and Yokota Air Base as a whole.My family and I truly appreciate all the tremendous work that went into making this event special.

Admiral Aquilino and General Wilsbach,thank you

I am truly honored by your trust and confidence in my ability to lead our joint force Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians, to work with our incredible allies from Japan, and to advance the readiness and combat capabilities of our two militaries.

Lt. Gen. Schneider and Lori, you have set the bar very high. For the last two-and-a-half years, U.S. Forces, Japan and Fifth Air Force have benefitted greatly under your excellent watch.

During your tenure, our two nations have been faced with more numerous and dangerous challenges. Challenges that not only impact our alliance, but the Indo-Pacific region, and the world. Your actions pushed the US-Japan alliance to stay ahead of growing regional threats, significantly increased the training and readiness of our bilateral forces, considerably improved force posture advanced force protection efforts, and all of this during a global pandemic.

Your efforts directly ensured the health protection of over 130,000 US and host nation personnel across 85 installations in Japan over the past 18 months, while sustaining the oldest and strongest US international security treaty.

The ability of these commands to balance operational deployments, alliance actions, and bilateral exercises with operational effectiveness, force health protection, and morale, reflect nothing less than the greatest passion, leadership, and dedication, you and this team deliver daily.

Thank you both for all your hard work and everything you have done to sustain and enhance this critical alliance while simultaneously ensuring the care and support to our Forces in Japan and their families.

As you head off to the challenges that await you in Washington, DC, just know that you can call me anytime for therapy, if and when you may need it.

In all seriousness, you are going to an exceptional team, and they will greatly benefit from your leadership as you take the reigns as the Director of Staff for Headquarters, US Air Force. Charlotte and I extend to you and Lori our best wishes.

For those of you who don't know, I am a military brat. Between my father and I, we have a combined, and consecutive, 60 years of military service in the Air Force. I was raised in a military family, and my children were as well.

Charlotte and I appreciate the demands that are placed on our military members and their families.Our journey has provided us with so many wonderful experiences, and incredible friendships.

It has been some time since we last enjoyed the experience Japan offers since departing Kadena Air Base in 2011. We left without getting to know all that this great nation has to offer and we look forward to getting out and exploring more of Japan.

To the entire USFJ and Fifth Air Force team. I am incredibly proud to join your ranks. I am impressed by your professionalism, and inspired by your energy. You represent the very best our nation has to offer. Through your service, you honor those that came before us, and demonstrate daily the incredible strength of character, competence, commitment to freedom, and shared values that serve as the foundation of this great alliance.

The prosperity the U.S. and Japan share cannot happen without this team. The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coastguardsmen, and Guardians, along with the members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, enable and safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific.

You are the foundation of the US-Japan Alliance. You are the United States forward deployed capability that deters aggression, aids in Japan’s defense, strengthens partnerships with other countries in the region, and enhances regional peace and security.  

To all our Japanese partners, central and regional, Charlotte and I look forward to working together to sustain the strength of our shared communities, the resolve of our strategic partnership, the readiness of our combined forces, and to further the close friendships that follow.

Our alliance, at all levels, ensures we remain a credible deterrent, ready to respond at a moment’s notice to any threat, crisis, or humanitarian disaster, and remain the cornerstone of stability and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

I’m excited to see our relationship continue to grow and for the opportunity to serve a small part in such a historic and significant international team.

Charlotte and I are honored and very humbled to be joining the U.S. Forces, Japan and Fifth Air Force teams. I feel blessed to stand among such an incredible group and look forward to serving you all. Thank you for joining us today.

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