Northern Strike, a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise in which the 127th Wing participated, took place in northern Michigan from July 19-31. This photo is from last year’s exercise.

Northern Strike, a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise in which the 127th Wing participated, took place in northern Michigan from July 19-31. This photo is from last year’s exercise.

Photo provided by 127th Wing Public Affairs


127th Wing participates in Northern Strike

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published August 6, 2020

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — It’s one of the largest multi-military training exercises held in the country and it happens right here in Michigan.

Northern Strike is a National Guard Bureau sponsored exercise that demonstrates the Michigan Air National Guard and Army National Guard ability to provide accessible, readiness-building opportunities for military units from all service branches.

Locally, members of the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township participated in the training, held July 19-31 at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan.

127th Wing Public Affairs Chief Phil Ulmer said the wing’s participation changed a little bit this year, due to COVID-19.

“Our aircraft, the A-10s and KC-135s, supported, but supported from here,” he said. “Northern Strike enables us to practice our wartime mission in a joint environment.”

Air Force squadrons, like the 127th Wing, flew A-10, B-52, F-16, and KC-135 aircraft from bases around the U.S. to participate in training scenarios in Michigan airspace.

Ulmer added that public affairs personnel, air crew, and maintenance folks participated in this year’s exercise.

Since 2012, Northern Strike has been held at Michigan National Guard training facilities. Capt. Andrew Layton, Michigan Air National Guard deputy state public affairs officer, said it is the Department of Defense’s largest annual joint, reserve component readiness event.

“Michigan has the largest military operating air space east of the Mississippi River,” Layton said. “Northern Strike is a premier opportunity to replicate future operating environments. It builds overall readiness and we’ve seen measurable increases in readiness metrics for units that participate.”

Due to COVID-19, fewer personnel were on-site, around 1,000.

It typically draws 6,000 to 7,000 National Guard members from 20 states and members of multiple coalition services and every active-duty branch of the U.S. military.

Layton said Northern Strike focuses on training the integration of air and ground forces.

“It’s multi-branch training exercises that are fairly unique in the National Guard to have this opportunity,” he said. “We get a lot of feedback from participating units that they get training at Northern Strike that they can’t get any place else and that’s possible because of the unique capabilities that Michigan has.”    

Training exercises focused on field artillery coordination between aircraft and ground units, and parachute rescue.

In addition to Army and Air National Guard forces from Michigan, troops from California, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin participated in Northern Strike. Troops from as far away as Latvia also were on hand.

Next year’s exercise is scheduled for August.

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