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The 164th SFS trains, serves as opposition force at Northern Strike 20

July 22, 2020 | By Webmaster
VIRIN: 200722-N-XZ300-0049

Story By Senior Airman Tristan D. Viglianco

Michigan National Guard

GRAYLING, Mich. -- Northern Strike’s purpose is to help prepare warfighters from across all service branches by perfecting joint fire proficiency in a premier all-domain training environment. In order to hone their skills, the participants need a skilled and realistic “enemy” to fight, which is where the 164th Security Forces Squadron comes in.

A team of Tennessee Air National Guardsmen traveled from the 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis to Rogers City, Michigan to serve as part of the opposition force.

“The team is eight personnel and for two week of this exercise we will be covering opposition force procedures,” said Tech. Sgt. Jermikeo Malone, 164th SFS team leader. “Basically, we are the ‘bad guys’ for the other participants and we are trying to make it look as real as possible.”

There are a variety of units the team is working to challenge including Army infantry, Air Force tactical air control party, and joint terminal air controllers from both branches.

“We are trying to simulate in-theater operations,” said Malone. “We are planting simulated improvised explosive devices and booby trapping things. Our goal is to make it as hard as possible for the combat forces to penetrate and eliminate the threat.”

In addition to helping others prepare to win the real-world warfight, the team believes acting as the opposition will help them when they face enemies in the future as well.

“We get to think how the other side would operate,” said Master Sgt. John Hogue, 164th SFS unit training manager. “We are using the same tactics as the enemy, so when we go back to being a blue force we know how to combat them.”

Northern Strike also serves as a chance for the team to gain valuable experience and complete tasks necessary to their training strategy, which improves overall readiness.

Held July 19-31 at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center in Northern Michigan, which includes Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center, the Michigan National Guard was worked with public health officials to develop a comprehensive plan that allows units to accomplish critical military readiness requirements at Northern Strike 20, safeguarding participants and local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Doing what we are doing now, is similar to things found in predeployment training,” said Hogue. “This gives us the ability to work on our combat skills. We will take what we did here back to our unit and the trainers will implement it.”

This is the first time the 164th SFS has participated in Northern Strike and they are hoping it will become a regular event for them

“We would like to send other groups up here to do this,” said Hogue. “This is pretty cool and the tools we have been given to function allow us to be flexible, creative, and think outside the box.”