Romanian military service members mass during opening ceremony of Saber Guardian
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Romanian military service members mass between U.S. formations attending the opening ceremony at a training ground in Slobozia, Romania, May 29, 2023, as a part of Saber Guardian. Saber Guardian 23, a component of Defender Europe 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 7,800 U.S. and 15,000 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 (U.S. Army Photo by SSG. Samuel Hartley). (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Hartley) VIEW ORIGINAL
The 129th Area Support Medical Company attends Saber Guardian opening ceremony
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 129th Area Support Medical Company of the Alabama National Guard showcases the company guidon during an opening ceremony at a training ground in Slobozia, Romania, May 29, 2023 as a part of Saber Guardian. Saber Guardian 23, a component of Defender Europe 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 7,800 U.S. and 15,000 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 (U.S. Army Photo by SSG. Samuel Hartley). (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Hartley) VIEW ORIGINAL
The 231st Military Police Brigade attends Saber Guardian opening ceremony
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The 231st Military Police Brigade of the Alabama National Guard stands with their guidon while attending the opening ceremony at a training ground in Slobozia, Romania, May 29, 2023, as a part of Saber Guardian. Saber Guardian 23, a component of Defender Europe 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 7,800 U.S. and 15,000 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 (U.S. Army Photo by SSG. Samuel Hartley). (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Hartley) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Romanian flag is raised during the Saber Guardian opening ceremony
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Flag of Romania is raised and saluted during the opening ceremony at a training ground in Slobozia, Romania, May 29, 2023, as a part of Saber Guardian. Saber Guardian 23, a component of Defender Europe 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 7,800 U.S. and 15,000 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 (U.S. Army Photo by SSG. Samuel Hartley). (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Hartley) VIEW ORIGINAL
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SLOBOZIA, Romania – Four countries' anthems filled the air of the parade field as hundreds of Army Soldiers and NATO allies from Romania, Albania, and Bulgaria stood in formation for the opening ceremony. Saber Guardian 23 had begun.

“Today will mark the beginning of a series of tactical exercises,” Brig. Gen. Iulian Daniliuc, Romania’s 2nd Infantry Division Deputy Commander, said during the ceremony. “More than ever, as you know what happens close to our borders. More than ever, the difficult, unconditional causes that warrant us to strengthen the resilience of our own group, NATO’s alliance, and defense capacity.”

Saber Guardian 23 is one of three linked exercises taking place as part of Defender 23.

Defender 23 is a U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAEUR-AF) led exercise focused on the strategic deployment of continental United States (CONUS)-based forces, employment of Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS), and interoperability with Allies and partners. Defender 23 will demonstrate USAREUR-AF’s ability to aggregate U.S.-based combat power quickly in Eastern Europe, increase the 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 encompasses three linked, yet separate exercises: Swift Response, Immediate Response, and Saber Guardian.

Lt. Col. Marcus Young, 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) Deputy Commander, weighed in to expand on the exercise.

“Saber Guardian is the overarching exercise,” Young said. “It’s the third and final connected training event that ensures that all units are capable and ready.

Saber Guardian 23, led by V Corps, deploys European-based forces via the Danube Delta to the Black Sea Region. Tactical actions are led by a Romanian multi-national Division and include a forward passage of lines, wet gap crossings, and Joint Forcible Entry operations.

“For the Alabama National Guard, it’s a continuation of our state partnership program,” Young said. “It also a time, as everyone knows what’s going on about 80 kilometers from here, a time for us to show our strength and our capabilities with our allied partners. We’re still strong, we’re still capable, and we’re highly motivated.”

Young said the 226th had back to back warfighter events before having the opportunity to come to Romania for Defender 23.

“Warfighter events are simulated,” Young said. “They’re all simulated, but here we’re going to have live units on the ground, and we are exercising our staff with real unit movement. This is a culminating event for us.”

The 226th will be integrating the Romanian 1st Mechanized Brigade into the MEB during the exercise. Young said this will be Romania’s first MEB.

“To do this on the 30th anniversary of our state partnership with Romania, it’s extra special for us.”

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