Then-Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Jost takes command of Joint Enabling Capabilities Command at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on May 23, 2022.

Then-Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Jost takes command of Joint Enabling Capabilities Command at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on May 23, 2022. (Samantha Jenkins/U.S. Air Force)

President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Jost to take command of U.S. Forces Japan, according to a Pentagon news release Monday.

Jost, currently the commander of Joint Enabling Capabilities Command of U.S. Transportation Command, Norfolk, Va., would succeed Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, who steered USFJ through the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened activity across the region by China’s military.

The USFJ commander represents the U.S. military to the Japanese government and also leads 5th Air Force.

USFJ administers the status of forces agreement that spells out the rights and responsibilities of 66,000 Defense Department military personnel and civilian employees and 45,000 dependents in Japan. It also oversees military exercises between U.S. service branches and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Jost

Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen F. Jost (U.S. Air Force)

Jost’s nomination was announced the day after the Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, reported a DOD plan to restructure USFJ to strengthen its military planning capabilities and its ability to carry out military drills. The revamp is seen as the allies’ response to China’s growing military and its claims over Taiwan and in the South China Sea.

Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are reportedly planning to announce the plan during their meeting in Washington, D.C., on April 10.

Jost’s nomination, which must be approved by the Senate, includes a promotion to lieutenant general. He is a 1994 graduate of the Air Force Academy with more than 2,700 flight hours, including in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35A Lightning II multirole fighters.

According to his official Air Force biography posted online, Jost’s current responsibilities also include the Joint Planning Support Element at Norfolk and the Joint Communications Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command helps stand up Joint Task Force headquarters in response to crises around the globe, his biography states.

In addition to service in Iraq and South Korea, Jost was stationed in Japan at Misawa Air Base from July 2011 to June 2012 as deputy commander of the 35th Operations Group and again from July 2012 to December 2012 as director of staff for the 35th Fighter Wing.

He has filled a succession of Pentagon staff roles since 2017, including operations division chief in the F-35 Integration Office, and director of that office from April 2018 to May 2019.

Rupp took command on Aug. 27, 2019, from Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, who called out North Korea, Russia and China as threats to regional security at the change of commander ceremony at Yokota Air Base, the airlift hub in western Tokyo where USFJ and 5th Air Force are headquartered.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now