Grayling welcomes U.S. and foreign troops to Northern Strike training exercise in Pure Michigan fashion

By Ari B. Adler, Director of Communications

Camp Grayling. It’s a place many people only think about when they drive past the exit on US-127 on their way to adventures in northern Michigan or on the way back downstate after a fun-filled weekend.

What they probably don’t realize is what the highway sign represents: “147,000 acres of ranges and training lands capable of supporting the majority of the weapons systems in the Army inventory.” That’s how the Michigan National Guard describes the crown jewel of military training facilities in the eastern United States.

Camp Grayling is the largest training area in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. Combined with the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center — which offers the largest open airspace for training east of the Mississippi River — the two “adjacent” facilities are a perfect spot for live-fire combat training missions.

And each year, a joint multinational exercise called Northern Strike proves just how great Camp Grayling and Alpena CRTC are as a team.

Recently, I accompanied Gov. Snyder and other dignitaries as they got a close-up look at the facilities and combat exercises. They also had a chance to meet and thank many of the soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors who strive each day to protect the freedoms we all enjoy.

The 2018 Northern Strike had more than 6,400 personnel on the ground and in the air from all branches of the U.S. Military except the Coast Guard. (The Coast Guard does participate in other Camp Grayling training exercises.) We had National Guard units from Michigan welcoming their counterparts from other states, as well as military forces from Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Jordan, Poland, Estonia, Germany and Hungary.

“Northern Strike is a premier joint training opportunity for all who serve to protect freedom and democracy. The men and women of the Michigan National Guard are pleased to be hosts. Because together we are stronger!”
~ Major General Gregory J. Vadnais, Adjutant General of Michigan

Seeing the troops and equipment from around the nation and around the world coming together in Grayling is a something to behold.

The sights and sounds of live-fire combat training give visitors a small glimpse into the world of combat that we ask the men and women of our armed forces to be prepared for every day.

And thanks to places like Camp Grayling and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center —it is possible for them to prepare for action through exemplary, live-fire training exercises like Northern Strike.

Northern Michigan is usually seen as a prime example of Pure Michigan because of its beautiful scenery and outdoor recreational activities. But during Northern Strike, it also showcases how the people who make Michigan their home are just as pure.

The welcoming nature of Camp Grayling and the sheer determination of the troops to do their best in training so they can perform that much better if called upon for combat really shine through.

“It’s great to have a training facility like Camp Grayling to be able to train our troops and those of our partners from around the world. But I enjoy being there to say thank you for their service and their sacrifice. We don’t have the chance to say thank you often enough and we really need to.”
~ Gov. Rick Snyder, Michigan Commander in Chief