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Nevada ANG’s 152nd AW participates in AIR DEFENDER 23

June 23, 2023 (by SMSgt. Paula Macomber) - The 152nd Airlift Wing partnered with nine other Air National Guard C-130 wings, the German Air Force, Romanian Air Force among other allied and partner nations at Wunstorf Air Base, Germany to provide combat tactical airlift for NATO’s largest-ever air redeployment exercise: AIR DEFENDER 2023 from June 12-23, 2023.

USAF C-130H #92-0553 from 192 AS, begins to taxi in preparation for exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23) at Wunstorf AB, Germany, June 6, 2023. [ANG photo by MSgt. Caila Arahood]

The exercise saw 25 countries, 250 aircraft, and over 10, 000 participants engage in two weeks of sustained air operations. Led by the German Air Force, AD 23 offered another opportunity for partner nations who value freedom and democracy to exercise collective defense, and demonstrated the unified resolve of NATO to fight and win an air war over the continent of Europe, according to NATO.

For two weeks, German civil airspace was partially closed to make way for the exercise’s 1,700 sorties of air combat and air mobility operations.

“AIR DEFENDER 23 was one of, if not the most meaningful experiences of my 16 years of military service,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Schwegel, assistant director of operations at Wunstorf Air Base and assigned to the 152nd Airlift Wing, Nevada Air National Guard in Reno, Nev. “To execute daily formation inter-flies with our NATO allies, and to fully integrate into a German air base proved the unity and interoperability of our NATO and partner-nation alliances. Our German allies were the most gracious of hosts and the most professional of aviators that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with."

Two crews and one C-130H3 tail from the 152nd AW participated in multiple force-on-force, joint multinational airdrop, and international sustainment missions across the continent of Europe. Air National Guard C-130s were instrumental to the deployment, sustainment, and redeployment of U.S. Combat Air Forces throughout the exercise: Delivering over 1.3 million pounds of cargo and 1,800 passengers to Combat Air Force spoke locations. Supporting this effort was a contingent of 152nd maintainers, aircrew tactics planners, medics, and aircrew flight equipment technicians, all of whom seamlessly integrated into the expeditionary airlift group at Wunstorf.

“If there’s one takeaway I have from the experience, it’s that despite our different cultures, we really have more in common with our NATO partners and allies than I ever realized," Schwegel said. "We’re cut of the same cloth and share the same societal and military-professional values.”

Courtesy of 152nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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