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    114th Fighter Wing participates in NATO’s largest air exercise



    Story by Maj. Amy Rittberger 

    114th Fighter Wing

    Members of the 114th Fighter Wing deployed to northern Germany to participate in exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23), which took place June 12-23, 2023.
    Exercise AD23 is the largest Air Force deployment exercise since the NATO alliance was formed in 1949. The German-led exercise included more than 10,000 participants and 200 aircraft from 25 NATO and partner nations, all coming together to strengthen vital relationships across the globe, reinforcing commitments with its partners.
    Exercise AD23 is a large-scale readiness exercise focused on delivering air-power into Europe, showcasing interoperability with partners.
    “Airpower is critical to mission success,” said Lt. Col. Eric Cleveringa, detachment commander, 114th Fighter Wing, South Dakota National Guard. “You have to first establish air superiority or air supremacy in order to affect operations on the ground.”
    In a massive demonstration of air-power, the 114th FW alone flew more than 70 sorties and 150 flying hours. Within those sorties there were a variety of missions flown to include: offensive and defensive counter air, air interdiction and air combat maneuvers.
    Cleveringa was impressed with not only the 114th FW’s capabilities demonstrated throughout exercise AD23, but also that of all participants.
    Regarding the demonstration of air-power, Cleveringa said, “I think it’s been very effective and very powerful. The ability to quickly stand up joint combined operations and deliver air-power throughout this theater has been very impressive and effective.”
    Not only did the 114th FW fly missions out of Jagel Air Base to support exercise AD23, but they also conducted an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) movement. The ACE movement demonstrated the ability to rapidly deploy a small contingent of Airmen and equipment to a forward operating location.
    For the ACE movement, the 114FW sent two F-16 Fighting Falcons, along with aircrew, maintainers and a small number of support personnel from Jagel Air Base to Lechfeld Air Base, Germany. The Airmen spent the night and flew missions out of the forward operating location while the remainder of deployed Airmen continued operations out of Jagel Air Base.
    During the ACE movement, one of the F-16s needed repairs. In the timespan of only a few hours, the 114th FW was able to secure airlift, Airmen and parts, and deploy them to Lechfeld Air Base to make the necessary repairs and bring all Airmen and jets back to Jagel Air Base.
    “That was a demonstration of air-power that we don’t know who was watching,” said Cleveringa. “To them they might have been just fixing a jet, but that demonstrated capability could have extreme significance in world events.”
    Being part of a historic exercise, 114FW leadership hopes their Airmen understand the impact they’re having on leveraging partnerships and deterring aggression around the world.
    “I hope they feel like they were part of something really big,” said Chief Master Sgt. Chad Weinacht, 114th Fighter Wing senior enlisted leader. “I knew it was going to be big, but getting here and seeing how big it is and all the attention this is getting on the world stage is huge.”
    The message of impact was felt throughout the 114th FW; not just with those in an operational role, but with critical support personnel as well.
    “Sometimes it feels like I’m just one part, and my part is small and it’s hard sometimes to see the big picture,” said Chaplain Capt. Trey Duam, chaplain, 114th Fighter Wing. “But when we have opportunities to hear from strategic-level leaders about what this exercise means, it helps put it in perspective that even though my individual work is just one person, the impact that we have together is pretty profound.”
    The 114th FW detachment commander echoed the sentiments of both Daum and Weinacht, regarding the impact of showcasing interoperability and reinforcing commitments to partners across the globe.
    “Our Airmen’s significance is beyond our comprehension,” said Cleveringa. “You get to an event like this and you realize that none of us are important, but every one of us is significant and that significance is beyond anything we can comprehend.”
    The demonstration of air-power throughout exercise AD23 showed that by linking arms with partners, together, they can project peace through power.



    Date Taken: 06.29.2023
    Date Posted: 06.29.2023 17:50
    Story ID: 448343
    Location: JAGEL AIR BASE, DE

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