GRAYLING , Mich - "The very realistic training scenarios during Northern Strike 2017 have presented Team JSTARS with abundant opportunities to hone our wartime capabilities, while incorporating our joint and multinational partners," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Billings, mission crew commander with the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.

For the last five years, the Michigan National Guard has hosted Northern Strike, a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center in Northern Michigan. This year, the exercise features one of the most advanced and versatile pieces of technology in the country in the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), an advanced ground surveillance and battle management system.

The E-8C Joint STARS is a modified Boeing 707, an aircraft that was originally manufactured in the 1960's. Internally, the aircraft is equipped with 22 radios, 7 data links, 2 internet's, secure telephone, all operated by 21 personnel. Team JSTARS, consisting of the Georgia Air National Guard 116th Air Control Wing, active duty 461st Air Control Wing, and Army JSTARS, provides simultaneous wide-area joint airborne command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support over land and water from a manned platform to combatant commanders around the globe.

The Total Force Integration and joint force unit operates the world's only Joint STARS weapon system based out of Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Its role during Exercise Northern Strike 2017 is to provide battle management command and control as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.

"The very realistic training scenarios during Northern Strike 2017 have presented Team JSTARS with abundant opportunities to hone our wartime capabilities, while incorporating our joint and multinational partners," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Billings, mission crew commander with the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.
The newly accredited Northern Strike 2017 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.