123rd Airlift Wing provides airlift in Europe for Operation Saber Junction

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. James W. Killen
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
The 123rd Airlift Wing is demonstrating its airlift capabilities during Operation Saber Junction, a NATO exercise being conducted here with 5,800 troops from 17 NATO countries.

More than 20 Kentucky Airmen arrived at Ramstein Aug. 31 and will support daily flight operations with two Kentucky C-130 Hercules aircraft through Sept. 9.

"Saber Junction is a great way to demonstrate the interoperability of NATO forces and a great opportunity to work and train with our NATO Allies" said Lt. Col. Kathryn Newell, aircraft commander for the Kentucky Air National Guard. "It is a privilege to take part in such a crucial exercise."

Saber Junction 14 prepares U.S. troops, NATO Allies and European security partners to conduct joint, offensive, defensive and stabilization operations, and to sustain cooperative efforts with partner nations.

Air National Guard units from Kentucky, California, Delaware, Illinois and Missouri are providing personnel and equipment air drops in support of airfield-seizure and forcible entry operations, Newell said.

Master Cpl. Chris Leedham, weapons detachment commander for Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, said he was pleased to be participating in an operation that builds such strong partnerships between allies.

"This experience of interoperability with such a capable international fighting force is professionally spectacular," he said.

Leedham made that comment just before he parachuted out of a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft as part of airfield-seizure training in the Baltics.

Leedham and the Royal Canadian Regiment were accompanied by U.S. Army Airborne paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, and paratroopers from the Italian Army's 186th Parachute Regiment.

All U.S. efforts in support of NATO partners in Europe, including Saber Junction, fall under the umbrella of Operation Atlantic Resolve. Saber Junction is taking place in the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and serves to demonstrate the effectiveness of U.S. and allied forces to achieve their objectives in a dynamic training environment, officials said.