At the Royal Military Academy of the Netherlands in Breda, Netherlands, shadowed by a Dutch Patriot launcher adding to the pomp and circumstance, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance co-hosted with the Netherlands and the Royal Dutch Air Force our sixth European Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony. This ceremony honored and recognized the best missile defenders throughout the NATO alliance for their exemplary service over the past year under the extraordinary circumstances across the European continent. These service members have demonstrated exceptional leadership and excellence in missile defense, directly enhancing NATO and Europe’s security.
In complementing this occasion and in relevance of the missile threat to NATO and Europe prior to the event, we co-hosted with the Netherlands and the Royal Dutch Air Force leadership our 7th “high level talks” with allies on integrated air and missile defense. These talks, with senior leaders and decision makers from many nations, provided each an opportunity to highlight specific missile defense concerns and ways of maintaining and improving capacity and capability at the tactical, operations, and strategic levels.
This award ceremony was established with the intention of honoring our NATO and European Partners for their contributions to integrated missile defense. Our first European Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony took place on April 4, 2014, Kaiserslautern, Germany – This inaugural event with intent fell on the same day as NATO’s 65th anniversary of its foundation on April 4, 1949. Our last European Missile Defender of the year was held in Berlin, Germany, co-hosted with Germany and their Bundeswehr Navy in 2018.
We honored 8 outstanding award recipients to include a career achievement award. In attendance to bring recognition to the inspirational recipients and the importance of this critical mission to NATO and Europe led by Gen. James Hecker, Commander, Allied Air Command, Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa; LTG. John Deedrick, United States Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee; LTG. Lance Landrum, 23rd Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee; Mr. David van Weel, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges; Maj. Gen. Dick C. van Ingen, Deputy Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Staff; Maj. Gen. James Kriesel, National Guard Assistant to the Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa; Air Cdre Professor Frans Osinga, Chair in War Studies at the Netherlands Defence Academy; Air Cdre Paul Herber, Assistant Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre; Brig. Gen. Michael Gschossmann, General Manager NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Programme Management Agency (NAPMA); Air Cdre Blythe Crawford, Commandant Air and Space Warfare Centre, Royal Air Force Waddington; COL Lisa Bartel, Deputy Commanding Officer for 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command; Col Nathan Owen, Assistant to the Director, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), at Headquarters, United States European Command; Col Max Lantz, Director of Space Forces, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa.
We are honored to introduce the 2023 European Missile Defenders of the Year:
Captain Rick ‘t Jong, Dutch Air Force; Captain Christian Weicker, German Air Force; Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Szalai, NATO AIRCOM; Master Sergeant William H. White, U.S. Space Force; Lieutenant Commander Brandon Naddell, U.S. Navy in support of U.S. Air Forces Europe; Captain Michael Shannon, U.S. Army; Lieutenant Commander David Ingel, U.S. Navy.
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Jan Marinus, Dutch Air Force, European Career Achievement Missile Defender of the Year.