by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs
8/27/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- In 9th grade he made up his mind.
Lt. Gen. Timothy M. Ray, 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force
commander, had dreams of flying his whole life and, at the end of his
freshman year of high school, determined the Air Force Academy would
make his dream a reality.
Thirty years after graduating from the Academy and more than 4,000 hours
in seven military aircraft, Ray's focus has shifted to that of a
strategic leader and commander of operational air forces in Europe and
The general outlined his priorities and shared his vision for the future
of the 3rd AF and 17th EAF during an interview here Aug. 7.
"It's not about what you are here to do, but why you are here to do it,"
he stressed. "it's all about producing American Airpower and we all
have a key role in that. We are not just here to execute a flying
schedule or pull our shift. We are here to produce American airpower and
that takes American Airmen and the unique Airman's culture. Europe is a
very strategic place at an important time in history, and American
airpower will be the difference between success and failure for our
nation and our joint and combined team. What we are doing makes a
difference in the world."
Ray explained that the U.S. Air Force is able to respond quickly to
support U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Central
Command priorities because of the forces stationed here.
"We can make an immediate impact for peace and stability in these
areas," Ray explained. "It's different than being in the States. Our
presence and our capabilities directly supports two combatant commanders
in executing the mission we have right here in front of us every day."
He said that while the command supports many contingency operations, he
still has an obligation to ensure the Airmen in his command are
organized, trained and equipped properly.
"We have to keep a very careful balance between operational missions and
training, and we have to make sure that balance is correct," Ray said.
He said whether it's an operational mission or a training exercise, leaders set the tone for success in any unit.
"Leaders strike a vision for the future and chart the course for
change," Ray said. "My job is to lead leaders and set the culture and
The success of an organization can be traced back to the climate a
commander has fostered. Ray hopes to foster a climate that values
dignity, respect and a balance of work and family. He and his wife have
been married for 28 years and have four children.
He said his family's support has been invaluable throughout his career.
"When you can choose between work and family, choose your family," Ray
said, "because there will be times where you can't choose, and your
family needs to know when those times are. The peace and happiness you
get with your family when you are out of the military is worth 10 times
more than any rank you will ever make."
The DeLand, Fla., native said that after pride in his family, and being
an American Airman he takes great pride in airpower and the faith he has
in his peers and fellow Airmen.
"The people I work with are just incredible," Ray said. "It is
absolutely fascinating to be working the operational issues in the
strategic landscape of Europe and Africa with them. I can't think of a
more exciting place in the world to be than right here with this team.
This is the best job in the U.S. Air Force right now."