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USAF appoints Pacific Air Forces commander in regional leadership change

US Navy Adm. John Aquilino, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, provides remarks as US Air Force Gen. Kevin Schneider listens during the Pacific Air Forces’ change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, 9 February 2024. Photo: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike

The US Air Force has officially appointed a new Pacific Air Forces commander during a change of command ceremony in Hawaii.

The US Air Force has officially appointed a new Pacific Air Forces commander during a change of command ceremony in Hawaii.

General Kevin B. Schneider took up command of the role during the ceremony held on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on 10 February.

Schneider returns to the Indo-Pacific region after serving as the US Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force commander from 2019 to 2021. He has served 12 years of a nearly 36-year career in the Pacific.

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“To the men and women of Pacific Air Forces; officers, enlisted, civilians – it is the honour of a lifetime to be part of this team once again,” Gen Schneider said.

“I am fortunate to have been assigned in the Pacific for a third of my career, and it feels like home to me.

“The actions we take to ensure stability and deter aggression in the face of multiple growing challenges will have far-reaching and long-lasting impacts. But we do not do this work alone. The allied and partner air forces we team with in the Indo-Pacific grow stronger and more capable each day.

“This is a time of great consequence for the Air Force and the nation, and much is resting on the shoulders of PACAF Airmen. I have absolute faith in the abilities of our airmen to do the hard work, to solve the tough issues, and to continue to deter those who attempt to undermine peace and stability.”

As the 37th COMPACAF, Schneider will oversee nine major Air Force installations, three numbered Air Forces and more than 46,000 air personnel serving primarily in Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, Alaska, and Guam – a key component of the PACAF 2030 strategy.

In addition, the region accounts for nearly 60 per cent of global gross domestic product, two-thirds of global economic growth, five of the world’s nuclear powers, and seven of the 10 largest militaries.

PACAF’s area of responsibility is home to 60 per cent of the world’s population in 36 nations spread across 53 per cent of the earth’s surface and 16 time zones, with more than 1,000 spoken languages.

Air Force Chief of Staff General David W. Allvin, who presided over the change of command, said the command’s importance cannot be understated in the world today.

“We are committed to maintaining a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, but our pacing challenge consistently threatens regional interests, negatively impacting security, sovereignty, and prosperity,” Gen Allvin said.

“I know General Schneider assumes command with his eyes wide open to this contrasting strategic approach and I know he will continue to propel the PACAF team forward to meet the challenges of the future.

“PACAF Airmen are on the frontlines of our re-optimisation efforts … adding General Schneider’s leadership and extensive experience in the Pacific will not only benefit them, but also our valued allies and partners across the region.”

Gen Schneider succeeds General Ken Wilsbach, who commanded PACAF since July 2020, as the third-longest tenured commander in PACAF’s nearly 80-year history.

During that time, the PACAF hosted the largest-ever Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium, developed the PACAF Strategy 2030, and expanded Agile Combat Employment capabilities.

“Having spent more than 20 years of my career in the Pacific supporting this mission, it’s been my true honour to serve as the PACAF commander,” according to Gen Wilsbach, who will become Air Combat Command commander at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia at the end of February.

“I am proud to pass my responsibilities to General Schneider knowing he will continue to increase our joint and combined capabilities to deter aggression in the Pacific.”

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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