U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Derek France, Third Air Force commander, visited several units across the 501st Combat Support Wing, Dec. 6-8, 2022.
During the immersion, France met with personnel and gained greater insight on the 501st CSW mission as he visited RAF Fairford, Croughton, Alconbury and Welford, England.
France also used the visit to underscore the importance of the 501st CSW and how it is a key component in accomplishing the 3rd AF overall strategic intent.
“Our focus at Third Air Force is on developing Airmen and their families, delivering air power, and defending the Alliance,” said France. “Every Pathfinder within the 501st Combat Support Wing plays an important role in those efforts.
“Specifically, this wing supports our strategic and operational goals by providing combat support for U.S. and NATO operations and influencing how we project airpower in Europe.”
As France met with 501st CSW leadership teams, he provided a site picture for the future of 3rd AF and how this wing will assist in accomplishing their objectives.
“My vision is a cohesive team across both theaters that is working together to defend vital U.S. interests, deter aggression, and deepen relationships with Allies and partners,” said France. “So, I see Third Air Force, including the 501st CSW, streamlining and right-sizing our organizational command relationships, and making smart infrastructure investments in order to be forward, agile, and ready to deter further aggression and defend our interests.”
In addition to his vision, France expanded on what support the 501st CSW should anticipate from 3rd AF in the near-and long-term future.
“We are facing increasingly complex, high-end threats. So, changes will happen often, and flexibility will be key,” said France. “You can expect Third Air Force to invest in our Airmen and their families, improve interoperability with allies and partners, modernize communication infrastructure, and advance Agile Combat Employment.
“Our focus will always be on people, partners, posture, and readiness.”
With that focus in mind, France recognized the exceptional performance of several Pathfinders and gave his impressions from his time with the wing.
“I am absolutely blown away by the quality of Airmen that we have here,” said France. “The Pathfinders truly do “Light the Way” as this wing is postured for today’s mission and ready to meet the demands of tomorrow.”