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Northern Strike returns to Northern Michigan skies

Courtesy Photo Col Jim Rossi, Alpena CRTC commander, left, Brig Gen Bryan Teff, MI ANG Commander, Maj Gen Paul Rogers chat with Michigan National Guard Adjutant General, Hon. Frank Kendall, Secretary of the Air Force at Northern Strike in Alpena on Thursday. The military exercises run through Aug. 20.

ALPENA — For nearly a week, residents may have noticed military jets and helicopters streaking across the Northeast Michigan sky.

The activity is part of the Michigan Air National Guard’s training exercise, Northern Strike, held each summer at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Grayling.

Ground exercises are also a part of the military preparedness training.

The military exercise series is designed to effectively build responsive, ready and lethal formations through the validation of readiness requirements by National Guard Bureau, First Army, and the Department of Defense, and approximately 7,400 participants from 19 states and several coalition countries will participate.

Of these, approximately 750 will be based at Alpena CRTC, according to a press release.

Latvia, the Michigan National Guard’s state partner; the United Kingdom and Canada also participate in the training, which concludes on Aug. 20.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Adam Jenzen, Northern Strike land component exercise director, said Northern Strike is important for maintaining and improving military strength.

“For a decade, Northern Strike has evolved into one of our nation’s most important tools for shaping our reserve forces into some of the best warfighters in the world,” Jenzen said in a press release. “We are excited to build on this legacy by demonstrating how the exercise allows units from all branches and components to train in a complex, joint environment while completing pre-mobilization requirements.”

The training takes place in Northern Michigan’s National All-Domain Warfighting Center which encompasses 148,000 acres of training space and 17,000 square miles of special-use airspace which extends over Lake Huron.

Additional training activities will happen in and around Rogers City and downtown Alpena, including the Carmeuse Calcite Quarry, Hillman Airport, and the Ess Lake vicinity.

“Northern Strike provides units a chance to experience the unique military training resources Michigan has to offer,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Rogers, adjutant general and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said. “After training in an innovative environment like the NADWC, they become more effective warfighters, ready to meet any demand our nation asks of them.”

A new feature of this year’s exercise is the integration of the Michigan Air National Guard’s exercise Northern Agility 22-2.

It will feature A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, MC-12 aircraft, W/MC-130 aircraft and KC-135 aircraft conducting operations from Cherry Capital Airport, Grayling Army Airfield, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, Alpena CRTC, and Battle Creek Executive Airport. This will demonstrate joint integration into the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment concept — the ability to generate airpower anytime, anywhere.

“Northern Agility is incorporated seamlessly with Northern Strike to show how ACE can be integrated into the joint fight,” U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, commander of the Michigan Air National Guard, said. “Northern Strike provides the perfect backdrop for Michigan to continue moving key Air Force doctrines forward as a center of excellence for ACE.”

Jenzen said the success of Northern Strike is directly attributed to the communities the military bases call home.

In addition, Jenzen said, Northern Strike provides a boost to the local Alpena and Grayling economies. On average, it brings approximately $30 million to Northern Michigan’s economy through military pay, travel and local spending each year.

“The local communities of Northern Michigan have been critical in growing Northern Strike over the last decade,” Jenzen said. “The patriotism and support they continue to provide has truly helped amplify the readiness of the men and women who serve our state and nation.”

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