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NEWS | June 27, 2023

Contingency Response Airmen Bring AD23 Participants

By Staff Sgt. Michelle Ulber, 146 Airlift Wing, Public Affairs, California Air National Guard

WUNSTORF AIR BASE, GERMANY - The Air National Guard’s 123rd and 156th Contingency Response Groups and the 172nd and 146th Contingency Response Flights are helping to return over 10,000 personnel and 3.4 million pounds of cargo to the United States now that the Air Defender 2023 exercise has ended.

“We will bring everyone back from all the different bases here in Germany, reorganize their cargo off their C-130 aircraft, and reupload everything onto a C-17 aircraft,” said 1st. Lt. Jerry Rodriguez, a logistics readiness officer with the 146th Airlift Wing. “We’ll oversee all the uploads and then send it back home.”

The German-led, multinational exercise focused on operational and tactical-level field training, primarily in Germany, with forward operating locations in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia June 12-23. Approximately 220 aircraft participated, with nearly 100 coming from more than 40 Air National Guard units.

Almost all the cargo and a considerable portion of the personnel must be processed through Wunstorf Air Base from Schleswig Air Base, Hohn Air Base, Kropp Air Base, and Lechfeld Air Base due to logistical issues landing C-17 aircraft at those installations.

“Wunstorf is the main hub that sends and receives cargo for exercise Air Defender 23,” said Master Sgt. Jeff Allen, a loadmaster with the 146th Contingency Response Flight. “Last September, a few of us from the Contingency Response Groups went out and did site surveys and realized that some of the air bases in Germany were not suitable to land large aircraft on, so the larger aircraft have to land here at Wunstorf and then have their cargo loaded onto smaller aircraft so it can be dispersed to the other air bases.”

With all that cargo coming through, it takes a lot of planning to ensure it arrives and departs as smoothly as possible and gets back home on time.

“Our battle rhythm is to figure out all of our logistics for this week, gather an overview of all the flight plans, then compile a list of all the outgoing cargo and our preliminary load plans,” said Rodriguez. “Everything is coming back to us here at Wunstorf; it’ll either be flown here on C-130 or line-hauled in by trucks. When it arrives, we’ll check the paperwork, weight and dimensions to ensure it’s safe for flight. After all that, we’ll reload it and send everything back home.”

Although the redeployment back to the United States has only just begun, many exercise participants have had only positive things to say about the CR team.

“I feel like CR is a great team to make exercises like this simplified,” said Staff Sgt. Jada Meddley, a commander’s support staff Airman with the 152nd Airlift Wing. “They come in, put everything together, and then take everything back out, doing all the heavy lifting. It takes a lot of the load off of everyone else. It’s very helpful. I’m grateful that I could participate in this exercise and thankful to everyone in CR for working hard to get us home safely.”



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