AUGUST 8, 2017, LANSING, Mich. – With eager anticipation, the Michigan National Guard has been preparing for the accredited Exercise Northern Strike 2017 after outstanding success from last year’s Northern Strike 2016.
Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 Army, Air Force, Marine, and Special Forces service members from 20 states and three coalition countries. During the first half of August, these thousands of service members will converge at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan.
The exercise strives to provide accessible, readiness-building opportunities for military units from all service branches to achieve and sustain proficiency in conducting mission command, air, sea, and ground maneuver integration. The exercise also focuses on the synchronization of fires in a joint, multinational, decisive action environment.
Despite staying busy running support missions for most of the units participating in Northern Strike 17, the 1460th Transportation Company, 246th Transportation Battalion out of Midland, Michigan is still finding the time and personnel to train their newer Soldiers.
In the midst of the chaos of running ammo, water, and other supplies to the ranges on Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, the 1460th Transportation Company is conducting drivers training for all of their Soldiers that are not currently licensed on the unit’s main vehicle, the Palletized Load System (PLS). The driving instructors are some of unit’s most veteran drivers, many having served in multiple deployments.
The driver training encompasses all of the capabilities of the truck, including the loading and unloading of the pallets, coupling the trailers, and backing up with a trailer. By the end of the two-week training, every Soldier will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to handle a PLS.
The 1460th Transportation Company is also using this course to give other Soldiers the chance to refine their driving skills. Some Soldiers in the unit are already licensed to use the PLS, but had not had much practice time behind the wheel. This training allowed them the opportunity to enhance their driving abilities.
The instructors do their best to provide each Soldier with as much drive time as possible. Students not only drive off post on the main roads and highways, but they also drive on wooded trails around Camp Grayling to experience the full capabilities of their equipment. Instructors point out how to use 10-wheel drive to escape from tight spots, and how to use the Central Tire Inflation system to deflate or inflate their tires from inside the truck.
“I just enjoy teaching others how to operate this big piece of equipment,” said Sgt. Steven Braley, the 1460th’s Master Driver and Assistant Truck Master, who has been with the unit for 16 years and has been an instructor for the PLS School for 12 years.
The PLS students are not only experiencing enhanced driver training but are also contributing to the overall success of Northern Strike 17 by ensuring that service members participating in the exercise have the equipment they need. This cohesion between units and branches of the U.S. military showcases the awesome performance of the Armed Forces at a real-time pace.
By Spc. Savannah Lang and Michigan National Guard