ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England – Headquarters 3rd Air Force
inactivated Tuesday during a ceremony here as part of a larger U.S.
Strategic Theater Transformation.
Although 3rd Air Force was inactivated, the U.S. Air Force will leave a
general officer in country. Maj. Gen. Paul Fletcher will remain at
Royal Air Force Mildenhall as U.S. European Command’s senior
representative to Her Majesty’s Government.
“The U.S. Air Force recognizes the special relationship that has been
fostered since World War II with our British hosts who have been our
best allies and closest friends for years,” said General
Fletcher. “This transformation won’t change that relationship and
does not affect RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath. These two bases
have enduring value to the U.S. Air Force.”
The 3rd Air Force inactivation marks the consolidation of all U.S. Air
Forces in Europe organizations responsible for planning and executing
air component support to joint operations under its Warfighting
Located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the Warfighting Headquarters
will better support the combatant commander’s execution of operations
across the spectrum.
“Numbered air forces, like 3rd Air Force, are transforming across the
world,” said Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, U.S. Air Forces in Europe vice
commander. “This transformation will enhance our role as an
expeditionary Air Force by consolidating our contingency response
capability. At the same time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to
and partnership with the United Kingdom, as we have done for decades.”
The U.S. Air Force began its presence in the United Kingdom in May
1942. The 8th Air Force, the largest air unit ever committed to
battle, departed England for the United States after the Allied victory
in World War II. In response to the Cold War, and to continue a
presence in the United Kingdom, 3rd Air Force was activated at South
Ruislip, near London, on May 1, 1951. In 1972, 3rd Air Force
headquarters moved to RAF Mildenhall.
When the Air Force inactivated Headquarters 17th Air Force at Sembach
Air Base, Germany, in 1996, 3rd Air Force picked up its
responsibilities and spread across the English Channel to cover all Air
Force units north of the Alps. Third Air Force served as
Headquarters U.S. Eureopean Command’s single point of contact with Her
Majesty’s Government within the United Kingdom.
General Fletcher will continue to maintain close engagements with Her Majesty’s Government.
“I am excited to be here and look forward to working with our British hosts,” he said.