GRAYLING, Mich. – For nearly a decade, Northern Strike (NS) has brought thousands of military members from multiple service branches, states and countries together, all in the name of building joint fires lethality and overall unit readiness.
Situated in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) hosts one of the largest National Guard and Reserve components’ exercises on the 148,000 acres of training space and 17,000 square miles of special-use airspace that extend over Lake Huron. Spanning across Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, NADWC is ideally located to facilitate Joint All-Domain training objectives of the participating units.
Just two months after the completion of Northern Strike 20-3, the Northern Strike Planning Team hosted a pre-deployment site survey (PDSS), initiating a one-year work up for NS21-2. More than 30 representatives from multiple services and states participated in the in-depth briefings and conducted tours to identify training opportunities for the upcoming rotation.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Brown (USMC) said the sheer amount of training is what has drawn the attention of the Combat Logistics Battalion 451 from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“There are so many different training opportunities that we could take advantage of for the unit, with the added benefit of doing that with the sister services, it’s hard to find all that on a regular Marine Corps base,” Brown said. “Working alongside the Army, using the same equipment, using simulators, it’s just all here. So we can do a full, in-depth consolidated training plan, hit every single wicket, and then some.”
While some come for training with other groups, Col. Carrie Perez (TXARNG), commanding officer, 36th Sustainment Brigade from Temple, Texas, points out that NS offers a rare occasion for her brigade as a whole.
“We’re pretty excited about Northern Strike because we don’t often get an opportunity to train as an entire sustainment brigade in garrison,” she said. “Even when we get deployed, it’s often in a separate capacity and never all together. So being able to bring the entire brigade up here and really train our leaders as to what we would do in a theater-opening operation, or supporting a theater-opening operation, supporting a material enterprise, doing the JSROI and all that – we’re super excited about it.”
Northern Strike is also one of the best ways for military members to familiarize themselves with allies from across the globe without having to leave the United States. Lt. Col. Michael Tornambe, commanding officer, 1-109th Field Artillery Battalion, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, is preparing the battalion for Defender 22, a multinational deployment set in Europe.
“In that type of environment [multinational and multi-echelon] it’s important that we are consummate professionals and are constantly displaying our proficiency and our competency,” Tornambe said. “And so to do that here and work with some of those partners here so that we have a level of familiarity not only with those partners but also just with operating in these environments, is going to set us up for success.”
Northern Strike is an exercise that seeks to nest the training objectives of the entire training audience centered on the Joint Fires Targeting Process. From the exceedingly large scale of ensuring the readiness of thousands of U.S. troops and their allies to the personal level of building inter-organizational relationships, the staff of Camp Grayling and Alpena CRTC are already working to ensure the success of Northern Strike next year.