ALPENA, Mich. - A new, cold-weather, joint military training exercise called "Winter Strike" took place earlier this month at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Identified by the National Guard Bureau as Northern Strike 20-2, and known as" Winter Strike," this cold weather readiness event is a new addition to the Northern Strike exercise program.

The exercise seeks to capitalize on the Michigan National Guard's premier facilities as a venue for U.S. and coalition forces to receive advanced training in all weather conditions. Northern Strike also facilitates one of the Defense Department's largest reserve component exercises held each summer at the two bases, which together comprise Northern Michigan's joint military training complex.

"We are excited to have added another dynamic component to the Northern Strike exercise program this year," said Col. John Miner, commander, Alpena CRTC. "We're calling it 'Winter Strike,' and the opportunities it presents for DoD and coalition forces to hone combined integration and readiness under challenging conditions are quite robust."

The initial iteration of "Winter Strike" was graced by field artillery operations and airfield operations, as well as joint fires integration and close air support. Participants represented several U.S. states and partner countries, including Latvia, the Michigan National Guard's counterpart under the U.S. National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

"Northern Michigan is home to 147,000 acres of ground maneuver area, as well as the largest military operating airspace east of the Mississippi River," said Miner. "Our partners and Allies come here from around the world for joint readiness events because the opportunities for multi-domain integration at Michigan's facilities are quite simply unmatched."

"Winter Strike" was executed in conjunction with a U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command exercise, Emerald Warrior 20-1, which staged from several locations across the U.S., including Alpena.

Emerald Warrior is a Department of Defense exercise focusing on irregular warfare in a joint, NATO combined, realistic training environment. This training hones special operations forces' air and ground combat skills and the development of improved tactics, techniques, and procedures while strengthening relationships for future deployments.

In addition to praising the high value of joint training in the adverse weather conditions of Northern Michigan, participants in the "Winter Strike" exercise gave the staff and facilities of the Michigan National Guard high marks.

"It's been fantastic to work with the other forces we're aligned with, with Michigan, and the post here at Camp Grayling," said Master Sgt. Jamie Preder, 1-120 Field Artillery, Wisconsin National Guard. "Camp Grayling has been flexible in making sure this event is all it can be."