News Release - The third and final DEFENDER 23-linked exercise, Saber Guardian 23, begins

May 24, 2023

WIESBADEN, Germany —

Exercise Saber Guardian 23, the third and final connected exercise making up the Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness 2023 exercise, or DEFENDER 23, begins May 29.

Led by U.S. Army Europe and Africa’s V Corps and a Romanian multinational division, Saber Guardian activities include Army prepositioned stock equipment draws; a tactical road march; river crossings; response to simulated chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threat; and medical evacuation operations through the region. Simultaneously, the 41st Field Artillery Brigade conducts Multiple Launch Rocket System / High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, and HIMARS Rapid Infiltration missions in the Black and Baltic Sea regions, with USAREUR-AF’s 56th Theater Fires Command. Simultaneous combined arms training will also occur in these regions.

“Saber Guardian and exercises like it demonstrate our ability to quickly assemble, deploy, receive, onward move, and integrate forces from the United States or from inside Europe in support of NATO requirements,” said Lt. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, commanding general, V Corps. “This is important as it provides U.S. and NATO leadership options for employing combat-credible forces across the conflict continuum.”

Saber Guardian, the largest of the Black Sea region exercises, includes more than 2,400 U.S. and 7,300 multinational participants. Countries participating in Saber Guardian include, but are not limited to: Albania, Bulgaria, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and the United States. 

Saber Guardian will incorporate the State Partnership Program between Romania and the Alabama National Guard, who will deploy from the U.S. to Eastern Europe to conduct training and military-to-military engagements alongside their long-time partners.

“One of the great things about the DEFENDER exercise each year is how it showcases to the world the strength and capability of the NATO cooperation and, specifically, our National Guard State Partnership Program. It demonstrates a level of mutual understanding and international camaraderie against which nothing else on the globe can compare or withstand,” said Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, adjutant general for the State of Alabama.

The Department of Defense’s SPP supports security cooperation objectives by developing enduring relationships with partner countries and carrying out activities to build partner capacity, improve interoperability, and enhance U.S. access while increasing the readiness of U.S. and partner forces to meet emerging challenges.

“Hundreds of our Alabama National Guard Soldiers will be able to seamlessly integrate and operate alongside our Romanian counterparts on Romanian soil because we’ve been doing so for 30 years,” Gordon said. “That’s what makes these alliances unique.”

Romania signed a bilateral affairs agreement with the Department of Defense and the state of Alabama in July 1993, establishing the Alabama-Romania SPP.

“But Saber Guardian is not just a spotlight. It will also serve as exceptional training for these Soldiers. I expect great things from this engagement with our NATO and SPP partners, but I am proud to know we will come away even stronger,” Gordon said.

Saber Guardian is scheduled to run through June 9.

DEFENDER 23 is a multinational 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 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 Saber Guardian activities. Journalists interested in being added to the distribution list should email Follow the latest news and information on DEFENDER 23 at

Click here for information on Swift Response 23 and Immediate Response 23, the preceding DEFENDER 23-linked exercises.

  • U.S. Army Europe and Africa