Germany prepares to host the largest air maneuvers in NATO historya show of force intended to impress its allies and potential adversaries such as Russia, German and US officials said on Wednesday.
The exercise Air Defender 23, which will begin next week, will include 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 countries that will respond to a simulated attack on a NATO member country.
Only The United States will send 2,000 Air National Guard troops and about 100 aircraft for training maneuvers.
“This is an exercise that would certainly impress anyone watching it,” said US Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann. “It will demonstrate beyond doubt the agility and speed of our NATO partner force in urgent response,” she said.
“I would be very surprised if some international leader did not take note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which is the strength of this alliance.”, added the ambassador. “And that includes Mr. Putin.”, he added, referring to the Russian president.
Although German-led exercises have been planned since 2018, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year has caused NATO to finalize its preparations for the possibility of an attack on its territory. in the maneuvers Sweden will also participatewho aspires to join the alliance, and Japan.
“We are showing that NATO territory is our red line, that we are prepared to defend every inch of this territory”, declared Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz of the German air force, which is coordinating the exercise. “But we will not carry out, for example, any flights to Kaliningrad. So this is meant to be defensive.” Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave located in the Baltic Sea, between Poland and Lithuania.
Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, director of the United States Air National Guard, said that exercise goes beyond deterrence. “It is about the preparation of our forces. This is about coordination, not just within NATO, but with our other allies and partners outside of NATO,” he said.
Loh said that the exercise would be an opportunity for the youngest American airmenmany of whom have gained experience primarily serving in the Middle East, build relationships with allies in Europe and prepare for a different military scenario.
“It’s about establishing now what it means to go against a great power, in a great power competition,” he said.
The authorities have stated that the drill will cause some disruption to civil flights in Europe during that period.
(With information from AP)