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Air Defender 23 provides joint training for 123rd Contingency Response, German Luftwaffe

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vicky Spesard
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

WUNSTORF AIR BASE, Germany -- A 123rd Contingency Response Element from the Kentucky Air National Guard deployed to Wunstorf Air Base, Germany, in June to provide base operations support and cargo distribution for exercise Air Defender 2023.

Although the 123rd CRE’s primary mission was to move cargo and personnel into and out of the theater of operations, the unit’s Airmen also shared contingency response expertise with their partner nation here, engaging with the German Luftwaffe to enhance interoperability in future operations.

Security and intelligence representatives from the 123rd CRE attended a weapons demonstration and security seminar in the local town, public affairs representatives toured the base media facilities and medical personnel conferred with medical officials at the Luftwaffe medical facility.

Other 123rd CRE interactions took place as well, including communications specialists providing a demonstration to German military personnel, weathermen sharing sensor data with Luftwaffe weather personnel, and loadmasters performing a Globemaster III offload alongside their Luftwaffe counterparts.

“It was really interesting to interact with the German security specialists and to see how passionate they are about what they do,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Jenkins, 123rd CRE intelligence specialist, after spending the day with Luftwaffe security officers. “It was especially eye-opening to learn that, although we have similar situations and job requirements, we go about them in different ways.

“I definitely learned a few new techniques that I can use,” Jenkins continued. “I hope I was able to share some new ideas with them as well.”

Working with foreign allies was not the only exchange of capabilities that CRE members experienced while in Germany. With several different U.S. Air Force units in the area to participate in AD23, the Kentucky Air Guardsmen had ample opportunity to work with a broad range of units and expand on the concept of multi-capable Airmen who fill more than one role.

Members of the 123rd CRE forward-deployed to Lechfeld Air Base, Germany, to provide support for fighter aircraft participating in AD23. While there, fuel management specialists were able to practice, then perform, an austere-environment re-fueling exercise. The specialists joined with their counterparts from the Idaho Air National Guard to directly transfer fuel from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules to a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air support aircraft.

“This was an exceptional opportunity for our team to gain this kind of experience,” said Master Sgt. Darren Wiles, chief of the 123rd CRE fuels team. “Being able to do our job of contingency response requires us to think outside of the box and to perform our mission under austere circumstances.

“Learning how to do this type of fueling procedure and do it with personnel we don’t know and haven’t trained with before only makes our capabilities stronger,” he concluded.

One of the main goals of AD23 was to integrate both U.S. and allied air power to defend shared values while leveraging and strengthening vital partnerships. The CRE has been able to deliver on these goals, officials said.

“This has been my first time working directly with the German military, and it has been great to see their processes and capabilities, and to share ours with them,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Krauss, 123rd CRE commander. “It has also been wonderful to see personal relationships built within our individual sections and their German counterparts and for us to get to know them and know we can work together in the future.”