Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider makes opening remarks during an Air Force symposium at Joint Base Andrews, Md., March 14, 2023.

Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider makes opening remarks during an Air Force symposium at Joint Base Andrews, Md., March 14, 2023. (Eric Dietrich/U.S. Air Force)

The former commander of U.S. Forces Japan has been nominated to head Pacific Air Forces headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the Pentagon announced Monday.

If confirmed as the next PACAF commander by the U.S. Senate, Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin B. Schneider would also be promoted to general. PACAF serves as the air component for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

It remains uncertain, however, how long Schneider’s nomination will await Senate confirmation.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is already holding up promotions for about 200 senior officers as a means of pressuring the Defense Department to rescind new abortion policies.

Schneider is director of staff at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon. He would replace Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, who has commanded PACAF since July 2020.

Schneider earned his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1988 and has commanded at the squadron, group and wing levels, including a combat wing in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, according to his official biography.

He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours in F-16 and F-15E fighter jets, the T-38C trainer jet and the UH-1N Huey helicopter. That total includes 530 combat flight hours, according to his biography.

He has held key commands in the Pacific over the past decade.

From 2015 to 2016, he served as chief of staff at PACAF, moving from there to become chief of staff at INDOPACOM until 2019. From early 2019 to August 2021, he commanded USFJ and the Fifth Air Force at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Schneider as USFJ commander oversaw the first attempts to restrict the coronavirus from spreading among the U.S. military community. He also fielded complaints from Japanese authorities of U.S. personnel disregarding pandemic restrictions and ordered an end to the display of Confederate battle flags on U.S. installations in Japan, citing the “painful reminder of the history of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity that it represents.”

Schneider offered stern words about America’s adversaries on the day he relinquished command of USFJ.

“Authoritarian regimes in Beijing, Pyongyang and Moscow continue to work to undermine peace and disrupt the security that has enabled economies to flourish,” he said during the Aug. 27, 2021, change-of-command ceremony.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.

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