New 3rd AF command chief talks mission, family

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

The new 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright, outlined his priorities and leadership philosophy for the command during an interview Feb. 5 on Ramstein.

With two previous command chief assignments under his belt, Wright said he is excited to get to work with the Airmen and hopes to build on the enormous successes the command has seen under Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, 3rd AF and 17th AF commander.

Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright,  3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force command chief
Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright,
3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force command chief

He said the path to future success will come from embracing the general’s priorities: motivational mission accomplishment, compassionate care of our Airmen and families, and the constant drive to improve and innovate.

“His priorities are my priorities,” Wright said, but added that other main focus areas for him include information sharing, building relationships with joint/coalition partners and developing the next generation of leaders.

His goal is to make sure the Airmen are plugged in so they can remain “Forward, Ready, Now!”

“Last year, nobody saw the events in Ukraine coming,” Wright said. “Nobody predicted an Ebola outbreak in Western Africa or the emergence of ISIL. So readiness will be one of our biggest challenges. Making sure we are ready at all times will be key for us here in Europe and Africa.

“I’m confident these challenges will be met head on by the great leaders we have throughout the 3rd Air Force,” he continued. “Attitude reflects leadership, and leaders set the tone for how their organizations function. I really believe that the amazing work being done by our Airmen to stay ready is empowered by great leadership up and down the chain.”

But, beyond the operational challenges they might face, he has his eye on the changes to multiple enlisted programs as well.

“On the enlisted side of the house we will be watching the new enlisted performance report, the static closeout dates and the master sergeant promotion boards,” Wright said. “I think if we provide information and clarity we will be able to help Airmen make it through these changes.”

He said his desire to take care of people can be traced back to the values his parents instilled in him growing up in Columbus, Georgia.

“My parents have been instrumental to my success and always great role models throughout my career,” Wright said. “Everything I do, I do to make them proud. I am also thankful for my wife, Tonya, and kids, Nicole, Kaleth and Isaiah. They keep me motivated, encouraged and inspired to give my very best every day.”

Despite growing up in Georgia, Wright made it clear that he is an avid, life-long Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

“When I was 9 years old, I didn’t watch sports at all, but my older brother was a Cowboys and Lakers fan, and since I looked up to my big brother, I instantly adopted those two teams,” he said.

However, he admitted that his true passion is playing golf.

“Cold, hot, rain, sleet, snow, whatever. It’s my favorite sport to play,” Wright said with a smile.

Between football, family and the fairway, Wright’s ultimate goal is to support the Airmen in Europe and Africa as their command chief.

“When I walk out the door after being the command chief here, I would like to say that we left a legacy of improvement,” Wright said. “I want to say we ensured the command was ready to meet the operational challenges facing both EUCOM and AFRICOM, we took care of our Airmen and their families, and we improved the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force through innovation. I hope that people were motivated and excited to be a part of this mission.

“I am very excited to be here and looking forward to getting out to meet the Airmen and see all of the wonderful things they are doing,” Wright added.