MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania — Romanian Land Forces hosted the opening ceremony for exercise Saber Guardian 23 in Smardan, May 29, 2023. The ceremony represented the beginning of the Saber Guardian exercise and was attended by units from nine NATO partners.
“The ceremony here is a great opportunity to see all the hard work, all the training from individual nations that's gone into this and then, especially here in the last few weeks, to the last month, an opportunity to work on interoperability, our opportunity and ability to communicate to each other, to plan with each other and then what we'll see in the next couple days here, our ability to operate together,” said Lt. Col. David Ahern, commander, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
The opening ceremony began with the arrival of Angel Tilvar, Romanian Minister of National Defense, which was followed by the raising of flags from Bulgaria, France, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United States, while each country’s national anthem was played respectively.
Following the anthem, the Romanian military leaders spoke to the NATO units in attendance about the upcoming exercise, highlighting the importance of interoperability and communication to deter foreign adversarial aggression.
The ceremony concluded with Tilvar walking the formations, while communicating his gratitude for their presence. After the ceremony, Tilvar visited the static display of armored personnel carriers, tanks, boats and infantry fighting vehicles displayed by the units in attendance.
"We couldn't find a better country to host the exercise and a better opportunity to work with the armies of so many different nations. We've been here for a few months now and it's a great area for training," said Ahern.
U.S. Army units in attendance included of 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Both units are currently assigned to the 10th Mountain Division for the duration of their deployment to the Black Sea Region.
Saber Guardian 23, a component of DEFENDER 23, is an exercise co-led by Romanian Land Forces and the U.S. Army at various locations in Romania to improve the integration of multinational combat forces by engaging in different events such as vehicle road marches, medical training exercises and river crossings.
DEFENDER 23 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa led exercise focused on the strategic deployment of continental United States-based forces, employment of Army Prepositioned Stocks, and interoperability with Allies and partners.
Taking place from 22 April to 23 June, DEFENDER 23 demonstrates USAREUR-AF’s ability to aggregate U.S.-based combat power quickly in Eastern Europe, increase lethality of the NATO Alliance through long-distance fires, build unit readiness in a complex joint, multi-national environment and leverage host nation capabilities to increase USAREUR-AF’s operational reach.
DEFENDER 23 includes more than 7,000 U.S. and 17,000 multi-national service members from more than 20 nations who will participate including, but not limited to: Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States.