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NEWS | Jan. 21, 2021

Winter Strike military exercise returns to Northern Michigan

By Capt. Andrew Layton Michigan National Guard

LANSING, Mich. – Winter Strike, the Michigan National Guard’s cold-weather joint fires military readiness exercise that is part of the signature Northern Strike exercise series, returns this year with COVID-19 precautions in place.

The exercise will be held Jan. 23-30 at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center in Northern Michigan, which encompasses the Camp Grayling Maneuver and Alpena Combat Readiness training centers.

“This exercise is unique because Michigan is unique,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of Michigan’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Our success is based on the success, vibrance and energy of our communities and on the premier all-domain training our state has to offer.”

The cold weather readiness event will be held for the second time as an addition to the Northern Strike exercise program, which offers the MING's unparalleled facilities as a venue for U.S. and coalition forces to receive advanced all-domain joint fires training in all weather.

“The Northern Strike exercise series is designed to challenge training audiences with multiple forms of convergence that advance interoperability across multicomponent, multinational, and interagency partners,” said Rogers. “The exercise also presents an ideal opportunity for Army Futures and defense industry partners to test emerging technologies for the future warfight.”

During Winter Strike 21, training will focus on synchronizing joint fires with field artillery from the Wisconsin National Guard, Marine and Army rotary-wing assets, B-52 bombers from the Air Force active-duty 5th Bomb Wing in Minot, North Dakota, and the West Virginia National Guard. Air National Guard (ANG) JTACs from New Jersey’s 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) and New York’s 274th ASOS, ANG A-10Cs from Selfridge, Michigan, and Marine Corps 2nd ANGLICO (Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company) from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will also participate.

The National All-Domain Warfighting Center is home to nearly 148,000 acres of ground maneuver area and the largest overland military operating airspace east of the Mississippi River.

In July, the Michigan National Guard safely hosted exercise Northern Strike 20 with a comprehensive public health plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Winter Strike 21 will similarly be held with precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including mandatory mask-wearing, frequent sanitization, social distancing and minimized indoor gatherings.

The Northern Strike exercise series is critical to the local economy in Grayling and Alpena. It brings 6,000 to 7,000 people from 20 states and numerous coalition countries to Northern Michigan annually, injecting an average of $30 million to Michigan’s economy.

“Across all of our facilities, we are looking for opportunities to grow and advance our training environment here, and we’re competing nationally for resources with every other state and territory for those federal resources,” said Rogers. “What we’re doing is attracting those resources through exercises like this and showing the value, from a national perspective, and then investing that in a meaningful way to continue to offer a great training environment for the future.”