Approximately 200 members of the 127th Wing, Michigan National Guard are in Germany to stand up a notional expeditionary air base. The worldwide muscle movement, nearly two years in the making, delivered several hundred U.S. Air National Guard Airmen to the U.S. European Command’s area of responsibility in advance of the German Armed Forces-led, exercise Air Defender 2023.
The largest air deployment exercise to be held since NATO’s inception, Air Defender 2023 is a live-fly exercise showcasing robust, multinational operations and collaboration with allies and partners.
“These are the same National Guard members who respond when national disasters strike a local community,” said Brig. Gen. Rolf E. Mammen, commanding officer of both the 127th Wing and the ANG element for exercise Air Defender 2023.
Designated as the lead wing, for the exercise, approximately 30 members of the 127th Wing’s air staff have convened to set up the command and control, or C2, element. By the time the exercise kicked off June 12, the C2 will be leading approximately 2,600 Airmen representing more than 42 U.S. states on the ground and fully integrated with the German host nation.
“It’s critical for these Airmen to train alongside the multinational military units they could potentially be deployed with,” Mammen said.
In this capacity, AD23 will give the wing the opportunity to train as an Air Force deployment element known as an expeditionary air base, practice unifying command over a variety of flying units and do so alongside host-nation partners. This type of exercise will reinforce existing partnerships among NATO countries.
“We want to demonstrate determined allied air power,” said Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, Chief of Staff, Luftwaffe. “Together with the U.S. and our allies in Europe, the Luftwaffe will send a highly visible and powerful signal of credible deterrence in the air domain.”