Arctic Eagle the exercise of freedom

It might not be Paul Revere’s midnight ride all over again, but “one if by land and two if by sea” might seem appropriate next week in Northeast Michigan, especially the Rockport area.

Beginning Tuesday Rockport will be turned into an international battlefront as U.S. and Denmark soldiers participate in a joint training exercise. The operation – Arctic Eagle – begins today and runs all week long. During that time troops will be at Camp Grayling, Rockport and Mackinaw City participating in various maneuvers and strategies. The exercise involves Michigan National Guard soldiers and airmen along with Marines, Coast Guard and Danish military personnel.

According to a National Guard release, the operation will “ensure the military’s ability to: control unit training at multiple locations, colloborate with Department of Defense and foreign national partners, exercise joint communications and respond to potential domestic threats.”

During the week helicopters and other military aircraft will be utilizing the airspace across the region to fly back and forth through. Rockport will be a very interesting part of the week-long exercises, as it is there where a simulated attack will take place. It is expected that soldiers from the Michigan National Guard and soldiers from Denmark, working in tandem, will be able to secure the port after the attack. While the attack is taking place some explosive simulators and weapons firing blanks will be used.

“We do our very best to minimize inconvenience to our surrounding communities,” said Camp Grayling Commander Col. Thomas Perison. “We work closely with the local communities when we know training exercises are going to take place; we value their partnerships and their support as we train to defend this great nation and our allies.”

Joint exercises such as this between countries has become an increasing part of Camp Grayling and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center’s annual schedule. Last summer in August an international exercise – Operation Northern Strike – took place took place and this year another is scheduled as well.

Interestingly, northern Michigan was selected for the training as it will allow troops to train in scenarios consistent with both Denmark and the U.S. defense plans in the Arctic Circle region.

The sound of explosions, rifle shots, machine gun fire and aircraft overhead Tuesday hopefully won’t be cause for alarm across the area. Instead consider it the sound of freedom and an investment in our national security.

For me, that’s an investment I would put up with any day.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at