U.S.-based Air Force mobility aircraft supporting DEFENDER 23 exercise in Europe

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jose Davis
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa

Activities begin this month across ten countries in Europe and continue through June as part of a U.S. Army-led exercise DEFENDER 2023, which U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa is supporting in several ways.

Six C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from Air Mobility Command’s 62nd Airlift Wing based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and three C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 403rd Wing based at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss, will support DEFENDER 23.

The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, an AMC wing that supports strategic airlift operations across 19 fixed locations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, will deploy three Air Mobility Teams and augmentation from across the theater to three locations in support of DEFENDER 23.

Two AMTs will deploy to Larissa Air Base, Greece, one AMT deployed to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain, and the wing has added additional personnel and capabilities to the 724th Air Mobility Squadron, an existing 521st AMOW unit, at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

An AMT delivers a Demand Force Team of aerial port, aircraft maintenance, and command and control capabilities to a point of need outside of the fixed en route structure. This is a new concept the wing is validating during the exercise.

During the exercise, the aircraft will be primarily based at Aviano AB.

DEFENDER 23 is a USEUCOM-directed multinational joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO Allies and partners.

DEFENDER 23 consists of three separate but related exercises. Those exercises are Swift Response, Immediate Response and Saber Guardian. Each of these exercises focuses on unique and challenging objectives. As an example, Swift Response tests the exercise participants’ ability to conduct three separate yet simultaneous joint forcible entry airborne operations. Exercise Immediate Response allows the participating nations and individuals to work through the complexities of rapidly building combat power arriving from the U.S. Finally, Exercise Saber Guardian affords participating units unique challenges such as conducting a forward passage of lines, contested wet gap crossings and joint forceable entry operations to seize key terrain objectives. USAFE-AFAFRICA has significant participation in all three exercises.

"This annual, nearly two-month long exercise is focused on the strategic deployment of U.S.-based forces, employment of Army pre-positioned stocks and interoperability with European allies and partners," said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, during a briefing on April 6, 2023, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

DEFENDER 23 planning is led by U.S. Army Europe and Africa. USAFE-AFAFRICA is the supporting command. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the U.S. military's ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible assets and equipment to assure allies, deter those who would threaten the peace of Europe and defend the continent from aggression. The exercise demonstrates European nations’ commitment to increasing their militaries’ scale, capability and interoperability.

DEFENDER 23 will include multinational troops from more than 20 Allied and partner nations.

The large-scale movement of troops and equipment from the continental U.S. for this exercise involves extensive support from each host nation, demonstrating the importance of ally and partner investment in European military readiness and defense. The United States is a coalescing force in Europe, improving interoperability, readiness and strengthening resolve across the Alliance.

USAFE-AFAFRICA’s ability to support and integrate with U.S. allies and partners continually strengthens solidarity, collective resolve, and the ability to adapt in a dynamic warfighting environment.

Several media opportunities are scheduled during DEFENDER 23 activities. Journalists interested in being added to the distribution list should email media@army.mil, or subscribe to the RSS feed at www.EuropeAfrica.army.mil/PressReleases. Follow the latest news and information on DEFENDER 23 at www.EuropeAfrica.army.mil/DefenderEurope.

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For more information, please call +49 (0) 6371-47-6558 or e-mail usafepao.pao@us.af.mil. If after duty hours, please call +49 (0) 1624-25-5428 or e-mail usafepa.pastaffdutyofficer@us.af.mil.