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

Air Force Master Sgt. Wayne Reeser (right), a loadmaster from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, talks with a paratrooper from the Royal Canadian Regiment at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, just before a Kentucky C-130 Hercules aircraft transports the paratrooper and other NATO forces into the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, as part of Operation Sabre Junction. The Kentucky Air National Guard is participating in the operation along with five other Air National Guard Units and forces from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

Air Force Master Sgt. Wayne Reeser (right), a loadmaster from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Airlift Wing, talks with a paratrooper from the Royal Canadian Regiment at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, just before a Kentucky C-130 Hercules aircraft transports the paratrooper and other NATO forces into the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, as part of Operation Sabre Junction. The Kentucky Air National Guard is participating in the operation along with five other Air National Guard Units and forces from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

A Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 123rd Airlift Wing sits on the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, awaiting the paratroopers it will carry to the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, in support of Operation Saber Junction. The U.S. and 16 other NATO allies are participating in the operation, designed to strengthen the partnerships and interoperability of NATO forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

A Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 123rd Airlift Wing sits on the flight line at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, awaiting the paratroopers it will carry to the Baltic region Sept. 5, 2014, in support of Operation Saber Junction. The U.S. and 16 other NATO allies are participating in the operation, designed to strengthen the partnerships and interoperability of NATO forces. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Sherman, a jump master assigned to the Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed in Vicenza, Italy, briefs NATO forces at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on procedures for safely exiting a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft Sept. 5, 2014, as part of Operation Saber Junction. Sherman's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Sherman, a jump master assigned to the Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed in Vicenza, Italy, briefs NATO forces at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on procedures for safely exiting a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft Sept. 5, 2014, as part of Operation Saber Junction. Sherman's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

U.S. Army Pfc. Jonathon Hernandez, a paratrooper assigned to the Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed in Vicenza, Italy, collects his thoughts Sept. 5, 2014, as he prepares to board a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in support of Operation Saber Junction. Hernandez's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

U.S. Army Pfc. Jonathon Hernandez, a paratrooper assigned to the Army's 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team stationed in Vicenza, Italy, collects his thoughts Sept. 5, 2014, as he prepares to board a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, in support of Operation Saber Junction. Hernandez's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

Italian Army Cpl. Felerico Yagliaroll of the 186th Parachute Regiment receives assistance with his gear from a fellow Italian Soldier as he prepares to board a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 5, 2014, during Operation Saber Junction. Yagliaroll's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

Italian Army Cpl. Felerico Yagliaroll of the 186th Parachute Regiment receives assistance with his gear from a fellow Italian Soldier as he prepares to board a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 5, 2014, during Operation Saber Junction. Yagliaroll's unit is participating in the operation with troops from 17 NATO countries. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. James W. Killen/Released)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- 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.