Lead With Air Power—ANG Top Leader Hosts Air Defender ‘23 Media Visit

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sarah M. McClanahan
  • Air National Guard

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director, Air National Guard, welcomed regional and national-level media from Germany, along with German air force senior leaders to the national capital region to learn about Air Defender 2023 from April 3-6.

The German-led, multinational exercise will focus on operational and tactical-level field training, primarily held in Germany, with forward operating locations in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia, from June 12-23, 2023.

“Air Defender ‘23 strategically unites the United States and Germany,” said Loh at a press conference at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. alongside German Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, chief of the German Air Force. “[The exercise] tests not only our interoperability to work together, but it also tests our ability to rapidly deploy and rapidly employ [coalition air power].”

There will be 23 varying types of aircraft among the approximately 220 participating aircraft, with nearly 100 of these aircraft coming from more than 40 ANG units—marking Air Defender ‘23 as the largest Air Force deployment exercise since NATO was founded.

“NATO is a pure defensive alliance,” said Gerhartz during the press conference, which took place as Finland officially became the 31st member of NATO. “But if somebody attacks one country, they attack us all.”

The collective defense exercise focuses on Germany’s ability to command and control a multinational air force operating from German airfields. Multinational aircraft will fly in three German airspaces in the north, east and south, with each capable of supporting composite air operations.

In addition to Germany and the United States, 22 Allied countries will participate.

“Strategic and tactical interoperability with our Allies and partners are key elements of credible deterrence, as is the demonstration of a combat-ready, assertive and effective air force,” said Loh. “Participation in Air Defender 23 is a demonstration of our continued commitment to collective security and dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region.”

German and U.S. media had the opportunity to learn about the specific U.S. aircraft and Airmen that will be participating in Air Defender ‘23 during an event at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

“We welcomed media from local communities around the operating bases in Germany so they could learn about the exercise and the multiple movements in and around their base,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Amber Schatz, public affairs advisor to DANG, National Guard Bureau Public Affairs. “We wanted to give them a firsthand look at some of the participating aircraft and the opportunity to interview pilots and aircrew to really emphasize the importance of exercises of this nature.”

With the Air National Guard’s extensive participation in Air Defender ‘23, the U.S. is making a clear commitment to Europe's security, stability and peace throughout the region.

“We want to demonstrate determined Allied Air Power,” said Gerhart. “Together with the U. S. and our Allies in Europe, the Luftwaffe [German air force] will send a highly visible and powerful signal of credible deterrence in the air domain.”

By demonstrating the ability to rapidly mobilize and defend Europe, Air Defender ‘23 validates the strength of NATO and the transatlantic alliances, said Loh.

“Readiness is absolutely important for our ability to deliver airpower anytime, anywhere around the globe, and our ability to take care of our homeland,” said Loh. “In the Air National Guard, our motto is Always Ready, Always There, no matter what happens, we will be there.”