SCHLESWIG-JAGEL AIR BASE, Germany - The German Air Force led Air Defender 23 this month, bringing together the Air National Guard and allies in the most extensive air redeployment since the inception of NATO.
Exercise AD23 was a powerful demonstration of a combat-ready, assertive and effective air force.
The German-led, multinational exercise focused on operational and tactical-level field training, primarily in Germany, with forward operating locations in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia June 12-23.
Approximately 220 aircraft participated, with nearly 100 coming from more than 40 ANG units.
“The exercise strengthens our partnerships and builds trust across the alliance by integrating multiple nations’ airpower to defend our shared values,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard.
It is critical for the Air National Guard to train where it could deploy and alongside the multinational military units it could be deployed with in the future.
Lt. Col. Dustin Brown, 120th Fighter Squadron commander and detachment commander for the exercise, said pilots, aircrews and support personnel completed a range of air operations during the exercise.
“From the air-to-air arena, we are doing defensive counter air, which is defending areas from any sort of aggression,” Brown said. “We are also putting aircraft together in a composite package. So, some will be protecting others, others are going into areas finding targets, dropping weapons or striking targets. We are also doing personnel recovery and close air support.”
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Brittany Self, an aircraft armament systems technician, 140th Aircraft Maintenance, and a multicapable Airman, said the experience has only solidified that this is her dream job.
“While talking with the Airmen participating in AD23, I can see the pride they have in what they’ve accomplished as a team over the past couple weeks,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Perry, command senior enlisted leader for the CONG. “This success would not be possible if not for their continued commitment to individual and unit readiness. Also, taking part in this exercise showcases how important their individual role fits into the deterrence objectives of the European theater.“