Northern Strike CSAR training takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
By Senior Airman Paul Helmig, 182nd Airlift Wing
/ Published August 09, 2021
ALPENA, Mich. -- Imagine being ejected from or crashing an aircraft into a remotely located area with dense forests and challenging terrains. Picture being in a survival situation in this environment and waiting to be rescued.
That exact survival scenario was executed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) during a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) for a Northern Strike (NS) 2021 training mission. NS is the Michigan National Guard’s largest and longest training exercise designed to validate readiness of the joint reserve force.
“The fact that we’re really far out here, into some pretty remote wilderness, does pose its own challenges,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Robert Rogers, survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialist with the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne, Indiana. “But it also affords us the ability to really increase the realism of the training.”
The terrain and thick woodland of the UP presented the military with challenges to help develop the skills needed during actual real world foreign conflicts. The Northern Michigan landscape provided the service members a unique opportunity to test their preparedness, readiness, and resiliency in order to successfully rescue personnel within the remotely located areas.
This joint services training involved an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, Army medical evacuation flight crews, and a Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. Through the integrated training, each branch gained the understanding of how other services approach a CSAR mission.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Wyatt Brown, 2-211th Army Aviation Support Facility flight medic, was one of four Army Soldiers from the Iowa National Guard to participate in the exercise. His focus in the scenario was to apply survival skills, such as land navigation and radio communication, but also learn how the Air Force and Marine Corps plan and execute rescue operations.
“It was great training to see the integration between Army Aviation and the Air Force CSAR mission, as well as the full capabilities of the Air Force CSAR mission,” said Brown.
Understanding how each branch operates and how all personnel perform in training is vital for readiness and preparedness within the military. These training missions are essential for personnel to hone their skills.
Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each branch is also a key component of the training. Future exercise scenarios and execution of real world missions are improved by highlighting these proficiencies and deficiencies.
“When you come at it with that approach, you really tend to take away more from the experience,” said Rogers.“Because you learn what works for other branches and what doesn’t work. And then we’re able to put all of that together and each time I feel that we do this we move forward and become better at Combat Search and Rescue.”
NS maximizes combat readiness by providing adaptable, cost effective training ranging from individualized tactical skills to near-peer contested threat and combined arms environments focused on Joint and Coalition force integration and domain convergence.