Third Air Force welcomes new commander, Maj. Gen. France takes reins of USAFE-AFAFRICA’s only NAF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Derek France assumed command of Third Air Force during a ceremony June 22, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander, presided over the ceremony and welcomed France as the newest leader of the major command’s only numbered air force.

“This is a huge day for 3 AF,” Harrigian said. “As one of the Air Force’s original NAFs, 3 AF has a tremendous history, and continues to play a pivotal role in the world today.”

The USAFE-AFAFRICA commander explained that France brings the “warfighting excellence and operational knowledge” needed to succeed in our challenging, operational environment.

“We have a leader that not only knows how to execute the mission, but one that also knows how to take care of Airmen and their families,” Harrigian said. “I can’t think of anyone better to be the 3 AF commander than ‘Trapper’ France.”

In the following moments, France would formally accept his new position in front of more than 100 attendees.

“Sir, I assume command,” France said while taking the 3 AF guidon, a symbolic gesture that signifies the passing of organizational responsibility from one individual to another.

With this assumption of command, France became the 56th commander of 3 AF. He is now charged with leading all the wings in USAFE-AFAFRICA, and the command’s 32,000 Airmen.

“I’m stepping into big shoes,” France said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead the best Airmen in the Air Force. I promise to prioritize people, readiness, posture and partnerships.”

He also explained that he would focus on the three Ds of 3 AF: Develop – Defend – Deliver.

“You can be sure that we will develop our Airmen and their families; we will defend our nation and its allies; and, we will deliver airpower… anytime, anywhere.”