Third Air Force welcomes new commander

by Tech. Sgt. Rachel Waller
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. John Wood, 3rd Air Force commander, left, accepts a guide-on banner from Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, during a change of command ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 7, 2018.


Maj. Gen. John Wood took command of the Third Air Force from Lt. Gen. Richard Clark during a change of command ceremony, Sept. 7.

In his last assignment, Wood served as Air Mobility Command’s director of strategic plans, requirements and programs, where he was responsible for the force structure planning, programming, doctrine, and requirements for the U.S. airlift and air fueling forces.

“Maj. Gen. John Wood’s career speaks for itself: perpetual excellence,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, Commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. “Absolute success in every single one of the commands he’s been in and every single one of the critical staff jobs that he has lead. A unique human being and somebody that we absolutely, positively needed to have to lead our numbered air force into the hearty portion of the 21st century.”

Maj. Gen. John Wood, 3rd Air Force commander, right, accepts a guide-on from Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, during a change of command ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 7, 2018. Wood took command of the 3rd Air Force from Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

As commander of the Third Air Force, Wood will oversee the planning, deployment, sustainment and redeployment of Air Force forces that directly support the combatant commanders during contingency and wartime operations.

“John, we just ask that you follow prudent 21st century command forum. It’s simply this, if our successive commanders aren’t quick, smart, and faster than their predecessors, the enemies will win and we will lose,” said Wolters. “John, the only advice Rich and I would like to offer you is if you lead them the Wood way, we’ll have success. We know when you are in command, the Wood way will harvest additional success and peace.”

“I happily accept this command. I promise I won’t fail, and I am looking forward to leading [this command]. [Clark] built an all-star team and an all-star cast. I look forward to building upon the visions you had set forth,” said Wood. “It’s an honor to serve in our United States Air Force. We fly, fight and win and like Gen. Wolters said, we’ll do it quicker, smarter and faster.”

Clark will move on to the Pentagon as the deputy chief of staff, strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

“It has been an amazing, amazing tour and now it’s time to go, to move on to the next chapter,” said Clark. “When I think about my tour here, there are only three things that I am eternally grateful for because I got a lot more than I gave to this command. The three things are: first the opportunity, second the family and third you inspire me.”

Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander delivers opening remarks at the 3rd Air Force change of command ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 7, 2018. Wolters presided over the ceremony where Maj. Gen. John Wood took command of the 3rd Air Force from Lt. Gen. Richard Clark. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

When Clark first assumed command two years ago, he inherited a component and not a command, said Wolters. Wolters explained that Clark was responsible for the transformation that morphed a component into a command that is now an organized, trained and equipped headquarters for the good order and discipline for Airmen on both the European and African continents.

“He has performed brilliantly. His staff, his Third Air Force warriors have performed brilliantly,” said Wolters. “All the wings under his command had to have the confidence that in the first 48 hours or five days of a potential conflict within the European continent, it would be met with success, not uncertainty, not triumph but absolute, positive victory. And through his exercise and training regime, that was exactly what has happened with the U.S. forces as they operate on the European continent.”

As Clark gave his final speech as commander, he thanked his Third Air Force Airmen.

“You never quit, never gave up and kept thriving to the finish,” said Clark. “What I do know is that you are the best example of what our country has to offer. I thank you for that inspiration and willingness to always give one more foot. It was my greatest honor to serve you.”