Soldiers gain invaluable experience with multicomponent, multinational operations during Northern Strike 22
Story by Sgt. Samantha Aguridakis, 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP GRAYLING, Mich. (08/31/22)
Soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took part in Northern Strike Aug. 6-20, providing them an opportunity to further sharpen their warfighting skills in a large-scale, realistic training environment.
Northern Strike is the country’s largest National Guard Bureau-sponsored training exercise and includes roughly 8,000 participants from different states and countries. The annual exercise provides Soldiers with a variety of training scenarios that help develop readiness, increase unit cohesion and build relationships.
Several units within the 37th IBCT were able to validate their readiness and become more proficient in communication, logistics and maneuvers during the exercise. Members of the 174th Air Defense Artillery Brigade contributed to mission support, helping ensure their fellow Ohio Army National Guard members had a beneficial training experience.
“We’re using this time to get mission ready,” said Pfc. Alyssa Heft, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 37th IBCT. “Here at Northern Strike, I’ve personally learned to adapt and work in a stressful, austere environment for the future.”
Throughout the exercise, the 37th IBCT’s units operated independently, while also combining during certain missions with other units and participants to accomplish strategic-level objectives.
The 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment had the opportunity to work with the Florida National Guard’s 1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, and gain hands-on experience using flight transportation equipment during sling load operations. These operations allowed Soldiers to refine their skills in equipment transportation and set up for direct-fire exercises. The 1-134th Soldiers also showcased their readiness during successful live-fire exercises.
The 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment had the opportunity to work with the Florida National Guard’s 1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, and gain hands-on experience using flight transportation equipment during sling load operations.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment participated in urban operations at Camp Grayling’s combined arms collective training facility. These operations allowed individuals to train in a simulated urban environment. They also gained confidence when responding to threats, without hesitation, in a deployed environment.
Soldiers with HHC, 37th IBCT, experienced their own version of simulated battlefield scenarios.
“We have also had enemy simulation in the background. We’ve had drones dropping simulation grenades. We’ve had CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) attacks,” Heft said.
Northern Strike exercise planners facilitated and encouraged interoperability with other U.S. service branches and foreign militaries. Sgt. Alexander Young, an information technology specialist with HHC, 37th IBCT, discussed his opportunity to work with U.S. Marines and the Latvian Land Forces.
“It’s nice to be able to work with other branches and countries in an environment like this,” Young said. “It makes me feel more prepared, that we could accomplish any mission together.”
Soldiers of the 237th Support Battalion enhanced their training by working with the Latvian Land Forces and U.S. Marines during their mass casualty and search and recovery missions. Skills that were reinforced included litter carries, medical evacuation procedures, triage and communication techniques.
The opportunity to work with others outside of the 37th IBCT was critical to improving unit planning, coordination and decision-making abilities. Learning different perspectives from allies and partners can be used to be better prepared for what might occur during real-world missions.
Young emphasized the importance of mental and physical readiness within a complex and dangerous environment that could be encountered while conducting combat operations. He said that, in addition to being physically fit and proficient in Army Warrior Tasks, when an enemy attacks, a Soldier must “be mentally prepared on how (and) when to defend yourself.”
Northern Strike provided participants an opportunity to grow confidence in their warfighting capabilities, validate their proficiency and work effectively with other U.S. service branches and foreign militaries. In addition, the trust and bonds that were formed among fellow 37th IBCT Soldiers during Northern Strike will last far beyond the exercise.