Grayling, Michigan – To mimic terrain in Slavic Europe, military units from Michigan, Latvia, Canada and Poland, will be active in northern Michigan from Aug. 1-20. These joint efforts will be part of the newest installment of Exercise Northern Strike.
Exercise Northern Strike is a military training exercise named because it combines air and ground combat capability drills into in one large training exercise with allies. It is controversial because the land usage of Camp Grayling is only supposed to support the Michigan National Guard or what is considered the official Michigan militia.
Approximately 5,000 soldiers, airmen and Marines will be participating in the exercise with the bulk of personnel operating from bases at Camp Grayling and at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Live fire exercises involving small arms, mortars, artillery and aerial munitions will occur within the Camp Grayling property. Army ground forces participating in the exercise include infantry, artillery and signal units.
The significant acreage Camp Grayling provides allows brigade-sized ground forces to maneuver freely while employing a variety of weapon systems to include: M-4 rifle, M240B machine gun, 60mm, 81mm mortars, and 155mm howitzers.
Aircraft scheduled to participate in the exercise include the A-10, F-16, B-1, C-130, KC-135 and the JSTARS E-8C that provides airborne, surveillance and target acquisition radar and command control center.
Marine Commandant Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, 62, will be in attendance. An East Lansing native, Neller will be observing Marine training missions during Northern Strike and will be briefed on the comprehensive training capabilities available at Camp Grayling. Neller, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Command, served in Iraq. He also oversaw deployment planning and execution of Marine Corps Forces Europe.
While the primary exercise focus is meeting the training needs of the specific units participating, Northern Strike 2016 will also be a showcase. Numerous Michigan National Guard training facilities for use by military, law enforcement and related security and environmental organizations will check their readiness. This also includes Homeland Security. Camp Grayling is also important to the Northern Michigan economy and tourist trade in the area.
Camp Grayling Military is the largest National Guard training facility in the U.S., due to its many ranges and ample maneuver areas. It was founded in 1913 on an initial grant of land from Grayling lumber baron Rasmus Hanson to the State of Michigan for military training. It now spans 147,000 acres in Crawford, Kalkaska and Otsego counties. Much of that acreage is accessible to the public for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and other recreational uses when military training is not taking place. The main post is only accessible to those with military ID’s.
Images Courtesy of Stars and Stripes:
- Lt. Gen. Robert Neller addresses Marine aviators at a Italian base before his promotion to Marine Commandant by President Obama.
- Joint maneuvers with the Michigan National Guard and Polish, Latvian and allied troops will take place at Camp Grayling in August.