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Air National Guardsmen participate in exercise Saber Guardian 19

Master Sgt. Troy Verbowski, crew chief from the 134th Air Refueling Wing, inspects the first stage fan blades on a KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 134th ARW, Tennessee Air National Guard during exercise Saber Guardian 19, June 21, 2019 at Sofia Airport, Bulgaria. The exercise promotes regional stability and security, while increasing readiness, strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust. The combined training opportunities that the exercise provides greatly improve interoperability among participating allies and partners. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Gagnon)

A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, completes refueling behind a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, during exercise Saber Guardian 19, June 17, 2019. The bombers participated in three exercises in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, providing opportunities for training with our allies and partners. Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe. The USEUCOM, NATO exercise promotes regional stability and security while increasing readiness, strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Gagnon)

A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, completes refueling behind a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, during exercise Saber Guardian 19, June 17, 2019. The bomber participated in three exercises in the Baltic and Black Sea regions, providing opportunities for training with our allies and partners. Strategic bomber missions enhance the readiness and training necessary to respond to any potential crisis or challenge across the globe. The USEUCOM, NATO exercise promotes regional stability and security while increasing readiness, strengthening partner capabilities and fostering trust. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Gagnon)

Sofia, Bulgaria --

First conducted in Romania in 2013, Saber Guardian was an annual exercise rotating between Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine until 2017 when it became biannual. Two major objectives have stayed consistent through each iteration: increasing interoperability among participating nation militaries and strengthening regional security cooperation.
The 134th ARW played a critical role in Saber Guardian 2019.
 
“Through our participation we helped strengthen the U.S. and NATO military alliance,” said Maj. Chris Boyd, detachment commander for state partnership in Burgas. “These exercises solidify the U.S. commitment to NATO members, and proves the significance of our alliances.”

Participation in multinational exercises increases readiness, enhances the professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partners during times of crisis.

“By us providing air refueling it enables assets to accomplish their missions while also demonstrating the capabilities of the United States Air Force as we support and train with the participating NATO-member nations,” said Boyd. “Without air refueling these assets would have limited range, thus limiting the scale of their operations.”

The many different training events during the exercise included vehicle road marches, medical training, a river crossing, a computer assisted exercise, and an air defense artillery live fire, in addition to air refueling.

Saber Guardian is designed to improve the integration of multinational combat forces and integration with Bulgaria is not new to the 134th ARW. Tennessee and Bulgaria have been integrating with each other as “sister states” through the Joint Department of Defense State Partnership Program. 

The State Partnership Program, which is managed by the National Guard, links a state’s National Guard with ETC. Typical SPP activities include disaster/emergency response, aviation operations, leadership/staff/officer/NCO development, and engineering operations. The SPP has been ongoing for over 25 years and now includes 75 partnerships with 81 nations across the globe. 
Along with supporting the SPP program and providing air refueling during SG19, the 134th also highlighted their presence in Bulgaria and support for Saber Guardian with two media orientation flights June 14 and 21.

“This is an opportunity to invite the Bulgarian media onto a  Tennessee KC-135 on a refueling platform,” said Lt. Col. John T. Rojas, bilateral affairs officer U.S. Embassy. “One particular flight just happened to be fueling F-16s and currently Bulgaria is considering purchasing the F-16 as a multirole fighter in order to meet their NATO commitments.”

Bulgarian media representatives from Military TV Channel, Free Europe Bulgaria, Capital Weekly, Nova TV, bTV and Bulgaria National Television, learned about the 134th's support of SG19 as they flew from Sofia Airport into Romania during refueling operations with U.S. fighter and airlift aircraft.

“Our primary mission was to support the USAF air assets with aerial refueling, in support of Saber Guardian 19,” said Master Sgt. Bo Rogers, boom operator from the 134th ARW. “In addition, and due to our basing in Bulgaria, SG19 allowed us to work with and strengthen our State Partnership with Bulgaria.”

While training with regional allies and partners during the exercise, the U.S. presence will continue to galvanize our commitment to security throughout the Black Sea and Balkan regions.

Along with supporting the SPP program and providing air refueling during SG19, the 134th also highlighted their presence in Bulgaria and support for Saber Guardian with two media orientation flights June 14 and 21.


“This is an opportunity to invite the Bulgarian media onto a  Tennessee KC-135 on a refueling platform,” said Lt. Col. John T. Rojas, bilateral affairs officer U.S. Embassy. “One particular flight just happened to be fueling F-16s and currently Bulgaria is considering purchasing the F-16 as a multirole fighter in order to meet their NATO commitments.”


Bulgarian media representatives from Military TV Channel, Free Europe Bulgaria, Capital Weekly, Nova TV, bTV and Bulgaria National Television, learned about the 134th's support of SG19 as they flew from Sofia Airport into Romania during refueling operations with U.S. fighter and airlift aircraft.


“Our primary mission was to support the USAF air assets with aerial refueling, in support of Saber Guardian 19,” said Master Sgt. Bo Rogers, boom operator from the 134th ARW. “In addition, and due to our basing in Bulgaria, SG19 allowed us to work with and strengthen our State Partnership with Bulgaria.”


While training with regional allies and partners during the exercise, the U.S. presence will continue to galvanize our commitment to security throughout the Black Sea and Balkan regions.