146th Contingency Response Flight Supports Air Defender 23 Published June 13, 2023 By Staff Sgt. Michelle Ulber, 146 Airlift Wing, Public Affairs, California Air National Guard WUNSTORF, Germany - Eight members of the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing's Contingency Response Flight deployed with the 123rd and 156th Contingency Response Groups and the 172nd Contingency Response Flight to Wunstorf, Lower Saxony, Germany, to support exercise Air Defender 2023, the largest deployment exercise in NATO's history. Air Defender 2023 is a joint defense exercise focused on Germany's ability to command and control a multinational air force operating from German airfields. The purpose of AD23 is to demonstrate NATO's ability to protect the population and safeguard freedom and democracy. From June 12 to 23, over 10,000 exercise participants from 25 nations with 250 aircraft will train in European airspace to optimize and enhance cooperation among NATO and allied partners and demonstrate the alliance's strength. To handle the large number of aircraft, passengers and supplies involved in an exercise of this scale, the Air National Guard brought in members of its Contingency Response Force. The contingency response career field combines people with different Air Force Specialty Codes, creating a compact, self-contained force capable of deploying quickly to any airfield to set up mobile command and control centers for contingency, humanitarian and exercise missions. "We will deploy at a moment's notice and set up a forward operating base, starting ramp procedures there, bringing in aircraft, people and supplies," said Senior Airman Austin Cravens, an aerospace ground equipment maintainer with the 146th Contingency Response Flight. "We're the first Airmen to arrive here in Germany to help prepare the way for everyone else arriving for the exercise." Airmen in the contingency response career field train in specialties such as logistics, air transportation, communications, weather, security and aircraft maintenance to ensure that the aircraft and personnel that follow them can safely land and do their missions. "Here at Wunstorf Air Base, we've set up the ability to talk to our aircraft to bring them in and land. We've also essentially set up a mini-base to bring in palettes and other large air force assets," said Cravens. "It's a lot of hard work right now, but it's great to see it paying off as all the exercise personnel and equipment arrive and get processed."