Support our mission
U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian passes the 3rd Air Force guidon to the unit’s new commander, Maj. Gen. Derek France, at a ceremony June 22, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. At center is Command Chief Master Sergeant Heriberto Diaz.

U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian passes the 3rd Air Force guidon to the unit’s new commander, Maj. Gen. Derek France, at a ceremony June 22, 2022, at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. At center is Command Chief Master Sergeant Heriberto Diaz. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The 32,000 American airmen in 3rd Air Force have a new boss, and he knows his way around the controls.

Maj. Gen. Derek France took the reins of the only numbered air force in USAFE-AFAFRICA at a ceremony Wednesday.

The command is in capable hands with France, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said, citing his tactical experience as an F-15 and F-22 pilot and his operational knowledge.

France stepped into the role about a month after his predecessor, Lt. Gen. Randall Reed, left to be second in charge at Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he also put on a third star.

A fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, France will oversee 10 wings across two continents at a critical time for Europe and the NATO alliance, as Russia’s war in Ukraine is about to enter its fifth month with no end in sight.

France vowed to continue “to prioritize people, our readiness, our posture and partnerships” while also defending the alliance.

“While the world has changed, 3rd Air Force will adapt and embrace those new realities,” he said. “The needle will not move when it comes to the dedication, readiness and resolve of our airmen.” 

France commanded an expeditionary wing at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and served as deputy director of operations for U.S. Central Command.

The past two years, he was assigned to Europe, where he was the director of operations for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration for USAFE-AFAFRICA.

As a leader, France knows how to “collectively find the right balance” between executing the mission” and taking “care of airmen and their families,” Harrigian said.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


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