3 AF commander sets expectations for 86 AW

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jared lovett
  • 86 AW/PA


U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Derek France, Third Air Force commander, recently sat down with 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Airmen to discuss his priorities for the 86th AW, and his impressions of Team Ramstein following a wing immersion Sept. 27, 2022.

86th AW/PA: What would you like our Airmen and audience to know about you and your overall vision as the 3rd AF commander?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: First, I want our Airmen to understand the focus areas of the Third Air Force. Our role in Third Air Force, as far as the higher headquarters for our wing, is to develop Airmen, deliver air power, and defend the Alliance. Every Airman, from the most senior down to the most junior, plays an important role in that.

When we say developing Airmen, it means we are being mentors to each other, we are being good wingmen, we are there for each other, and we treat each other not only as coworkers, but as family. This is important, now more than ever, as we emerge from [Covid-19] and work through some of the challenges that this theater is having.

When we talk about delivering air power, it means making sure we bring innovation to the fight and that we don’t do things the same old way just because that’s the way we’ve always done them. We’re constantly looking to self-improve and see if there are more innovative ways to make that happen.

When we talk about defending the Alliance, it is with the understanding that we don’t do this alone. At the grassroots level up to the strategic level, we’re involved in building partnerships and advancing those partnerships with our NATO Allies, coalition and joint partners so that we are stronger together.

86th AW/PA: What are your goals as the Third Air Force commander?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: As the Third Air Force commander, I am looking to build a cohesive team across Europe and Africa. Partnerships are the main reason we are the capable force that we are right now. That’s really my main goal, that we all come together to get the mission done.

I certainly, see that a great deal within the 86th Airlift Wing. Both with your geographically separated units as well as the support that our C-130J Super Hercules aircraft provide to this theater, the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing and the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing.

86th AW/PA: With that in mind, what are your expectations of each member of Team Ramstein?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: For Team Ramstein, my expectation is that we are honest and genuine with each other. We are partners in the community, both on and off base, with our German hosts. I expect our Airmen to live within our core values and make sure that we are taking care of the important things. That is tough to do in a high-ops tempo environment.

I am aware we put a lot of demands on our Airmen because of the mission. But, it cannot be at the expense of the fundamental things that enable us to serve in the long-term, and not just in the short-term.

86th AW/PA: After immersing with the 86th Airlift Wing and many of its members, what was your overall impression and what stood out?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: I am absolutely blown away by the quality of Airmen that we have here. Across the board, I have seen nothing but really awesome things coming out of this wing. It starts with the understanding that this wing is the Global Gateway and it has a no-fail mission. From inspiring airpower innovations to behind-the-scenes support for Ukraine, the wing really does stand at the forefront of defense and freedom here.

86th AW/PA: Ramstein Airmen consistently maintain some of the highest operation tempos across the Department of Defense, with suicide awareness month coming to a close, what can we do moving forward to take care of our subordinates, peers and our own mental health?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: There are a lot of things we can do, but I think it starts with the most basic thing that we can do: listen. It's a skillset that needs to be practiced. It’s a skillset that has atrophied over time, especially during Covid.

Too often, we are quick to speak and slow to listen, when it should be the other way around. With listening comes understanding, and with understanding comes empathy. With empathy comes a good wingman that can help us out in times of trouble.

86th AW/PA: Are there any additional topics you would like to discuss?

MAJ. GEN. FRANCE: I am awful proud to be associated with this organization, the 86th Airlift Wing, and to live on Ramstein. This base is blessed with great leadership, from Brig. Gen. Jones through his subordinate commanders and senior enlisted leaders all the way down to the fantastic individual Airmen I met today. I look forward to meeting more in the next year or two as the Third Air Force commander.