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Public Affairs takes readiness to next level at Warfighting Center

U.S. Air Force public affairs specialists from the 110th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, and the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, gather around for studio camera technique training during Northern Strike 21-2 at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Michigan., Aug. 2, 2021. Northern Strike is one of the Department of Defense’s largest reserve component readiness exercises, which occurs for two weeks in the beginning of August at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center in Northern Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wynndermere Shaw)

U.S. Air Force public affairs specialists from the 110th Wing, Michigan Air National Guard, and the 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, gather around for studio camera technique training during Northern Strike 21-2 at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Michigan., Aug. 2, 2021. Northern Strike is one of the Department of Defense’s largest reserve component readiness exercises, which occurs for two weeks in the beginning of August at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center in Northern Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wynndermere Shaw)

ALPENA, MI, -- Roughly 5,100 troops from across the world gathered for Northern Strike (NS) 21-2 held at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC), located in Alpena, Michigan, and Grayling, Michigan. For two weeks in August, NS will conduct various exercises by land, sea, and air. Eight Air National Guard (ANG) public affairs (PA) specialists are leveraging the opportunity to complete qualification training while also providing real-world media coverage to the exercise.

NS is one of the Defense Department's most extensive reserve component readiness exercises. Airmen are exposed to multiple aircraft models, international allies, and live-fire drills. PA specialists from the 110th Wing, 182nd Airlift Wing, 183rd Wing, 127th Wing, and Michigan Joint Force Headquarters seized the opportunity to train and create content together. The experience gained in a unique training platform, like NS, gave these Airmen an advantage in their careers.

“Not only am I learning a lot about my job by being here in a PA capacity, but because of the time constraint and how difficult everything is, I’m experiencing a lot of personal growth too,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph L. Pagan, a 182nd Airlift Wing PA specialist.

Upon completion of basic training and technical training school, Airmen move on to additional career development courses and on-the-job training. This includes upgrade training to reach their journeyman skill level, also known as “5-level”. Upgrade training requirements for PA journeymen include competency in video production, photo story illustrations, feature story writing, media operations support, alert photography, and light theory.

“It is an intimidating workload," said Airman Katherine Jacobus, 183rd Wing PA specialist. “It hones in a lot of the skills we have already learned while additionally teaching us new skills. I am very fortunate to have a setting like NS to develop my skills and techniques more."

It can take ANG Airmen 12 months or more to earn a 5-level qualification due to relying on only one weekend a month of training. This massive exercise allows an opportunity for drill status Guardsmen to expedite the process.

“What the NS exercise provides is incomparable to anything you can get on a drill weekend or at home station annual training,” said Master Sgt. Lealan Buehrer, 182nd Airlift Wing PA superintendent. “It provides real field experience, a tactical environment, and stressful challenges that emulate what you could see in deployed joint-force, multinational environments. The NADWC offers a special opportunity to take your personal and professional readiness to the next level.”

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