CAMP GRAYLING MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Mich. – Northern Michigan in the winter is a thing of beauty. From the blue ice on the Great Lakes to the bright white picturesque setting against the frozen landscape. People flock to it because of all it has to offer. That includes military units from across the country to take part in an exercise that few states can offer.

Northern Strike 21-1, otherwise known as “Winter Strike,” offers the elements of snow, cold and ice to the equation, all of which impact training scenarios and gives service members the opportunity to train in the harsh environment that is northern Michigan in the winter.

Held from Jan. 23-30,2021, military personnel from across the country come to the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWIC), which encompasses Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, making it the premier training location for any climate.

“Winter Strike really showcases the training capabilities the NADWC has to offer,” said Major Nicholas Anderson, 631st Troop Command, Lansing, Mich. “You can have all different elements, ground, air, cyber, and unmanned aircraft all in the fight against us. It offers a robust training environment across all platforms.”

Marines with the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), Camp Pendleton, Calif., have learned that training in a cold weather environment can have challenges that don’t always arise in a warmer battle space.

“As a radio operator, we don’t get any cold weather training with a radio,” said Marine Sgt. Jay Hoylman, 1st ANGLICO, Camp Pendleton, Calif. “So this environment helps learn how to keep our batteries warm, their life expectancy and how it affects communication. If I’m setting up my antenna and it freezes over, it can affect capabilities and we have to learn how to work around it.”

Not only does the cold weather affect what they are doing with their equipment, it can also affect and restrict movement. Northern Michigan usually has plenty of snow this time of year and it’s important to prepare for that.

“This is a good test of skill sets, putting them in a colder environment that can have effects on both soldiers and their movements,” Anderson said. “Walking through snow versus dirt, as we know, can be challenging at times. They learn what to wear because you don’t want to be cold, but too much gear can impede your movement and slow down the mission.”

Winter Strike offered the Marines with ANGLICO the ability to not only train for a cold weather fight, but the opportunity to work with other military branches in an exercise environment.

“We specifically came to Winter Strike to train in a cold weather environment, and to work with other branches. We need to train with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, Army Artillery, and Army forward observers to learn how we all work and get a better understanding of each other,” said Hoylman.

The National All-Domain Warfighting Center is home to nearly 148,000 acres of ground maneuver area, as well as the largest overland military operating airspace east of the Mississippi River. Last July, the Michigan National Guard safely hosted exercise Northern Strike 20 with a comprehensive public health plan that allowed the exercise to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, while safeguarding participants and local communities. “Winter Strike” 21 is similarly being held with robust precautions in place that incorporate COVID-19 guidance implemented by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including mandatory mask wearing, frequent sanitization, social distancing and minimized indoor gatherings.

The Northern Strike exercise series is critically important to the local economy in Grayling and Alpena. It brings an average of 6,000-7,000 men and women from 20 states and numerous coalition countries to Northern Michigan annually. In total, this delivers an average of $30 million to Michigan’s economy annually in military pay, travel, and local spending in Northern Michigan.

Date Taken: 01.26.2021
Date Posted: 01.28.2021 12:03
Story ID: 387686
Location: GRAYLING, MI, US 

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