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Northern Strike Brings Military From Around the World to Northern Michigan

Military members from around the world are in Northern Michigan right now training for combat in harsh winter conditions.

“Believe it or not, Michigan is actually one of the only places in the U.S. where you can actually do this type of training,” Captain Andrew Layton of the Michigan National Guard reveals. “It’s just a great location for that all-domain type of training as we call it.”

Soldiers from around the world have descended on Grayling every year for Northern Strike for the past 11 years. Northern Strike comes in two phases: one in the summer and one in the winter. Grayling will see over 6,000 troops during the summer phase and just 600 for the winter phase.


“But they’re still getting after some very challenging training and challenging environments,” Captain Layton explains.

This year’s training includes military members from Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama, California and South Carolina to name a few. They even had military from Latvia join them this year.

And while those challenging environments may seem like an ordinary winter day for us, but for soldiers from warmer climates the snow and cold can prove taxing.

“It’s fun and it’s pretty when they first see it and then all of a sudden, ‘oh this is difficult,’” Command Sergeant Major Kevin Palmatier laughs. “So, they get here they learn how to wear their gear. [They] hook up the chains to sling load this equipment with gloves on which takes a little bit longer. So, they understand the time process it takes and maintain equipment in the cold.”


It’s real life and real-world training that could prove invaluable on the battlefield.

“They know that it’s a valuable skill and they can take that home back to their units and they feel confident that the training they received here at Camp Grayling, Michigan is a skill they have that not a lot of people in the military have received,” CSM Palmatier says.