News Release - Immediate Response 23, second of three major DEFENDER 23-linked exercises, to begin

May 17, 2023

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WIESBADEN, Germany – —

Exercise Immediate Response, the second of three connected exercises making up the Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness 2023 exercise or DEFENDER 23, begins May 22.

During Immediate Response, which takes place primarily in the Balkan region, the 34th Infantry Division’s Minnesota National Guard Headquarters—an Infantry Battalion Task Force—and other enablers deployed from the U.S. to Europe will join host nation and Europe-based troops in more than two weeks of training.

“The Minnesota National Guard is excited to take part in DEFENDER 23, an exercise that demonstrates and improves upon the U.S. Army’s ability to integrate with our Ally and partner nations to increase scale, capability and interoperability of rapidly-deployed forces,” said Army Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general. “It’s an especially exciting year for us as we arrive in Europe in time to celebrate twenty-seven years of the State Partnership Program relationship between Minnesota and Croatia.”

The Department of Defense’ State Partnership Program, which is managed and administered by the National Guard Bureau, guided by State Department foreign policy goals, and executed by state adjutants general in support of combatant commanders and the U.S. Chief of Mission is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Minnesota National Guardsmen and other National Guard units will join participating nations and individuals to work through the complexities of rapidly building combat power arriving from the U.S. and utilizing vehicles and equipment from Army prepositioned stocks throughout Europe. Combined-arms training and live-fire exercises will take place across the Balkans.

Immediate Response takes place in Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Slovenia, and includes approximately 2,800 U.S. and 7,000 multinational participants. Service members from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Türkiye and the United States are scheduled to take part. The operational readiness of U.S. forces across all domains is critical to building partnerships, responding to crisis, providing deterrence and supporting our Allies and Partners.

Immediate Response is scheduled to run through June 2.

DEFENDER 23 is a multi-national joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between U.S. and NATO Allies and partners. The exercise demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible troops and equipment to the European theater. This assurance of commitment to our Allies deters those who would threaten the peace of Europe.

Several media opportunities are scheduled during Immediate Response activities. Journalists interested in being added to the distribution list should email Follow the latest news and information on DEFENDER 23 at

  • U.S. Army Europe and Africa