AUGUST 10, 2017 – The infantry is making use of new capabilities during their Annual Training (AT) in Camp Grayling, Michigan, during the joint force exercise Northern Strike 17 (NS 17) in order for the command on down to the privates to know what they now have to use.
“It’s a huge learning curve for a young platoon leader, even the guys on the ground to understand what those capabilities are,” said Capt. Ryan Kimball, Charlie Company Commander of 3-126th Infantry Regiment located in Dowagiac, Michigan.
Kimball, who has been in the military for more than 20 years, has seen how these advancements are changing the Infantry Soldier’s life. One change is the ability to call in air support when needed.
“Air support is critical, anytime you’re in combat, a real situation or training; you get into a firefight it’s extremely valuable,” said Kimball who lives in Allendale, Michigan. “In the U.S. we have the best Air Force in the world, that’s one of our biggest strengths, we can pretty much knock out anything with the air. If you bring in an air asset like that, and you’re in the middle of a firefight, you’re going to win no matter what, so that just helps us to be more efficient.”
The opportunity to bring in the Air Force assets is one of the wonderful things about NS17 because it offers a joint venue with Army, Air Force, and Marines. This is offering the Infantrymen of the 3-126th valuable training.
“This is actually quite an extraordinary training opportunity for everybody especially for the new guys coming in, this bringing everyone together,” said Kimball.
He said one the biggest benefits is for the Soldiers to learn how to bring in all the assets together, so they make the most use of them. Giving the Infantrymen the security of knowing they are not in it alone.
“It’s reassuring being on the front line knowing that someone has our back, that every decision we make on the battlefield is being supported higher up,” said Spc. Cameron Brauer, a grenadier with 3rd Squad, 1st Platoon, Charlie Company.
Not only are the squads being supported by air, but also on the ground. They are now making use of a remote control Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) that will go in before the Soldiers and do the scouting for them.
“That’s awesome, I think the use of technology in modern warfare is beneficial to the foot Soldier,” said Brauer a resident of Farmington Hills, Michigan. “Knowing that there’s a security line in front of them and there’s less front line risk, as if it were me crossing first.”
The APC is controlled by civilians, who were at NS 17 showing off the capabilities of the machine and how it can help the Soldiers.
“I think it’s great to integrate civilian and military in order to create a better understanding and bridge the gap between the two in order to bring more technology into the military aspect,” said Brauer. “As a united force we can come together and neutralize a hostile target in a civilized fashion.”
All of these teams are coming together during NS 17, which is bigger than ever and adds new types of participants every year.
“I know that Northern Strike is a huge operation in itself and we are just a small puzzle piece of all of that,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Schrot squad leader for 1st platoon.
Schrot, who is from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is amazed at all of the effort being put into the lanes that his squad and the rest of the company go through. He said there is so much going on he doesn’t even know about, but that he likes it because he thinks it will help him when actually conducting overseas missions.
“We’ve done Northern Strike for the last few years and this already seems to be more involved than in the past,” said Schrot. “I’ve never had training like this in my life up until now.”
The training offered by NS 17 is trying to improve the conditions on the ground for the average Infantryman helping them succeed. It is proving how technology and combined forces help in the missions of tomorrow.
Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries during the first two weeks of August 2017 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard.
The newly accredited NS17 demonstrates the Michigan National Guard’s ability 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, together with the synchronization of fires in a joint, multinational, decisive action environment.
By Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera