Germany to Host Unprecedented NATO Deployment Exercise

June 7, 2023

Germany is preparing to host the biggest air deployment exercise in the history of NATO next week.

The “Air Defender 23” exercise will host 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 nations—including 2,000 U.S. Air National Guard personnel and 100 U.S. aircraft. The forces will respond to a simulated attack on a NATO nation.

C-130 transport aircraft from Air National Guard units in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Minnesota and Wyoming have reportedly already begun arriving at Wunstorf Air Base for the exercises that will take place June 12 through 23.

“Our goals for this largest deployment exercise since the foundation of NATO are comprehensive,” said Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, Chief German Air Force, in an April announcement from NATO. “We want to demonstrate the agility and swiftness of Air Forces as a first responder and showcase NATO Air Power.”

While the exercises have been in the planning stages for several years, Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has prompted NATO into more urgent preparations for the possibility of an attack on one of its member nations. 

Sweden, which is still waiting for approval to join NATO as its 32nd member, is taking part in the exercise, as is Japan—which on Wednesday threw its support behind Sweden’s bid for NATO membership.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann said, “I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance,” adding, “And that includes Mr. Putin.”

Lt. Gen. Gerhartz added, “We are showing that NATO territory is our red line, that we are prepared to defend every centimeter of this territory.”


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