Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray assumed command of 3rd Air Force, replacing Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, during a ceremony at Ramstein AB, Germany, according to a base release. Third Air Force, a component of US Air Forces in Europe, supports US European Command. In his new role, Ray also leads 17th Expeditionary Air Force, which supports US Africa Command. “We stand at the strategic crossroads of the world at an incredibly important time,” said Ray to the assembled airmen during the July 2 change of command. “You will be the difference between peace and stability,” he said. Ray received a third star for the new assignment. He comes to 3rd AF from the Pentagon where he was director of Global Power Programs in the Air Force’s acquisition office. Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of USAFE-Air Forces Africa, presided over the ceremony. He praised Roberson and his wife, Cheryl, for their “an incredible record of mission accomplishment.” He also welcomed Ray, saying Ray’s “experience as a bomber pilot will provide a unique view” for EUCOM and AFRICOM. Roberson is moving on to oversee Air Education and Training Command at JBSA-Randolph, Texas. The Senate confirmed him for the position on April 30.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.