GRAYLING, Mich. – Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Sustainment Brigade seized an opportunity during Northern Strike 21 to get battle-ready, conducting their validation exercise.
NS 21 is one of the National Guard's largest joint training exercises, in northern Michigan at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center with the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. The validation exercise is used to validate and certify the proficiencies needed for contingency operations.
First Army mobilized to Camp Grayling for the first time to support the pre-mobilization validation during the exercise, reducing post-mobilization requirements for the 36th Sustainment Brigade by 10 days. The unit was evaluated on six mission-essential tasks focused on expeditionary operations.
"Northern Strike has provided us a realistic training opportunity during our VALEX," said U.S. Army Col. Carrie Perez, commander of the 36th Sustainment Brigade, 36th Infantry Division. "We've been able to integrate with about 3,700 Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and our international partners, to include the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the Iowa National Guard, and other subordinate units to operate in full brigade capacity."
Northern Strike fills joint all-domain training and task iteration gaps in the Army and Air National Guard training strategies, sustaining and enhancing reserve component proficiency and readiness. This year's exercise enabled sustainment formations to train and test their ability to deploy rapidly, set the theater, re-sustain, and provide timely support in a decisive action environment. The Texas National Guard learned best practices as commanders worked to solve complex problems.
"We've had training scenarios that covered many different capabilities and joint operational missions to discover what works well and what does not," said Perez.
The entire warfighting force depends on sustainment formations to provide critical, synchronized support for decisive action in force projection, force reception, onward movement, distribution management, and material management.
The 36th Sustainment Brigade successfully executed a heavy airdrop re-sustainment operation during NS21. The brigade rigged, loaded, airdropped and recovered Humvees deployed from other locations.
Two C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 182nd Air Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, providing simulated intra-theater airlift for Northern Strike. Additionally, the 294th Quartermaster Company from the Texas Army National Guard conducted rigging of two M1097 Humvees. To determine if the Humvees were still viable after the flight, they were driven from the drop zone by the 1836th Transportation Company.
The Michigan Army National Guard facilities consist of 41 readiness centers, nine maintenance facilities, four aviation facilities and training installations to simulate anticipated enemy capabilities, making it ideal for units across the country to come to Michigan to train.
The National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC) encompasses the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Camp Grayling offers more than 148,000 acres of state-owned training space that includes 482 miles of training trails, ranges, lakes, rivers and an impact area that can sustain up to 500- pound bombs. To complement land training, the NADWC has more than 17,000 square miles of special use airspace.
"We've discovered that Camp Grayling has great maneuver space and flexibility by participating in Northern Strike," said Army Lt. Col. Kathy McKay, commander of the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard. "There has definitely been value added to our organization by having a brigade element serve here during annual training."