General Kevin Schnieder has been designated the new Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) commander, as the US Air Force (USAF) faces an increasingly challenging threat environment in the Asia-Pacific.
Schneider, a 36-year veteran in the USAF, succeeds general Kenneth Wilsbach, who has commanded PACAF since 2020.
“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,” says Schneider.
“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.”
Wilsbach will move on to head the USAF’s Air Combat Command.
The leadership handover comes as China continues its massive weapons build-up, including the deployment of an increasingly capable air force, characterised by advanced types such as the Chengdu J-20, J-10C, Shenyang J-16, and advanced versions of the Xian H-6 bomber.
Moreover, Beijing has amassed a large missile force capable of striking US and allied bases throughout the region.
In response, the USAF has had to evolve its posture and is working on ways to operate from dispersed bases to help ensure survivability.
The USAF has also stepped up exercises involving allies such as Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.
Wilsbach has been candid about the challenges facing the USAF in the Asia-Pacific, strongly advocating for the introduction of new aircraft, such as the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft and the latest version of the Boeing F-15, the F-15EX.
“This is a time of great consequence for the air force and the nation, and much is resting on the shoulders of PACAF airmen,” adds Schneider.
“But 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.”