Michigan Air National Guard Supports Saber Strike 2015 Published June 13, 2015 By Tech Sgt. Dan Heaton 127th Wing Public Affairs Riga, Latvia -- KC-135 Stratotankers and about two dozen Airmen from the Michigan Air National Guard are in Latvia, providing support to Saber Strike 2015, a 13-nation exercise taking place there and in neighboring nations June 8-19. The Michigan Airmen are among 6,000 military personnel participating in the U.S. Army Europe-led exercise. Saber Strike is a U.S Army Europe-led cooperative training exercise conducted annually since 2010. The aim of the exercise is to improve the cooperation and capabilities of the participating nations for future contingency operations. This year's exercise objectives facilitate cooperation among Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The exercise, which is taking place in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, also builds on the more than 20-year relationship the Michigan National Guard has enjoyed with Latvia in the State Partnership for Peace program. The Michigan National Guard and Latvian forces routinely train together and conduct various exchange programs for military personnel. During Saber Strike, the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard plays a critical role by providing aerial refueling, aerial port support capabilities, joint tactical air control, personnel and equipment airlift, and close air support to U.S. and partner nation ground forces while demonstrating air deployment of forces and equipment. "Saber Strike is a great opportunity to showcase and foster our interoperability between ally and partner nations," said Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. "Combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with our allies and partners demonstrate that we share a commitment to promoting a Europe that is whole, free and at peace." U.S. Air Force capabilities in the exercise include KC-135 Stratotankers from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserves out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; F-16 Fighting Falcons from the South Carolina Air National Guard; A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the Maryland Air National Guard; B-52 Stratofortresses from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota; and C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Additional support is provided by the 435th Contingency Response Group and the 435th Air-Ground Operations Wing from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "Maintaining a forward, ready presence in Europe is critical to assuring our allies and to deter real and potential adversaries," said Gorenc. "We are only able to maintain this global presence through total force cooperation with our National Guard and Air Force Reserve partners."