Meet the commander: New leadership to continue group legacy

Staff Sgt. M. Davis
Kaiserslautern American editor

The wing has changed, but the mission stayed the same.

As the new 86th Operations Group commander, Col. Randy Kee will aim to continue the legacy of those who had served in the position before him.

“I want build on the legacy of Col. Bradley Pray (former 86th OG commander) and previous commanders of the fighting 86th Ops Group,” said Colonel Kee. “In particular, my focus will be to ensure the group remains compliance of Air Force instructions and technical orders, mitigating risks as much as absolutely possible as bedrock to a safe and effective flying operation. In every aspect, my perspective is mission equals safety and safety equals mission.”

During his 18-year career, he was stationed between Ramstein and Rhein-Main airbases for nearly five years. The commander knows first-hand of the bases’ significant contributions to airlift within the European theaters.

“In every element of those operations, safety was the driving factor to mission accomplishment, forming the lens through which I view the safe and smart way to work airlift and aeromedical evacuation operations,” said the colonel, a native of Grant Pass, Ore.”

“Operational safety and combat mission success begins with ensuring every echelon of leadership and supervision stays committed to preserving training for crews, maintainers and support personnel”, said Colonel Kee, a C-130 pilot with more than 4,200 flying hours.

As the operations group commander, Colonel Kee saw his as primarily focus was to synchronize 86th OG to directions and guidance from the 86th Airlift Wing, 3rd Air Force and U.S. Air Forces in Europe commanders.

“In short, ensuring every aspect of 86th Operations are maintaining 100 percent solid formation integrity with the chain of command, as we execute operations and training here at Ramstein and/or wherever the mission takes us.”

Colonel Kee had recently returned from Air Expeditionary Service with Operation Enduring Freedom, as the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander and operations group commander at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyz Republic.

In his short time at Ramstein, he spoke of the strengths and world-class operational processes and procedures in place within the 86th AW.

In guiding future steps for the group, he offered his perspective. “I will listen, learn and then act … taking the time to plan, milestone and measure, coherent steps to incrementally improve our already superb airlift, aeromedical evacuation, electronic combat support and weather operations within the 86th OG. As we continue to pursue greater excellence in these areas, I will do my best to coach, cheer, guide and mentor as the commander.”

As a leader, Colonel Kee had expectations of those he leads. “The 86 Ops Group is part of a world-class team here at Ramstein and USAFE. I challenge all within the Ops Group to continue to be standard bearers as some of the best examples within our Air Force of honor, integrity and accountability, while continually demonstrating an equally positive image as American ambassadors to our wonderful host nation” he said.

Recognizing, and encouraging good ideas is something the commander fosters.

“Everywhere I have served, I have had the opportunity to see smart ideas come forward that can and does make a difference.” In the 86th Ops Group, I strongly encourage folks to bring their good ideas forward, for our collective leadership to review and apply as appropriate to help make a difference,” he said

One thing about Colonel Kee is he is all about people. “I have a passion for the people of our Air Force. “For certain, the No. 1 pleasure of the opportunity to once again to serve as a commander is the chance to lead and grow the people who have answered the nation’s call to serve. To our airmen, I give 100 percent of my passion and effort … the folks who make the mission go.

“This is a team effort. I am here to mentor and coach the Ops Group team, and for certain, it is my honor and privilege to serve with help them in our nation’s defense.”