ALPENA, Mich. –
Air Mobility Command (AMC) is conducting part of their biennial training exercise Mobility Guardian at Michigan Air National Guard’s Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) May 17-28, 2021. Mobility Guardian 2021 (MG21) is focused on all-domain operations in Contested, Degraded, and Operationally-Limited (CDO) environments against a high-end adversary. The scenario drives a response to adversary aggression threatening the security and sovereignty of the exercise area of responsibility.
“AMC must simultaneously prepare for tomorrow’s fight while maintaining success in today’s operations,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC commander. “AMC’s priorities are aligned with those of the Air Force, U.S. Transportation Command and the Joint Force, ensuring AMC is agile, aligned and capable of executing national objectives across each of AMC’s missions.”
Alpena CRTC is one of four unique readiness installations located in the United States and is fully operated by the Michigan National Guard. Military units come from all over the United States to train at the installation, including active duty and reserve components of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and Coast Guard.
“To prepare our teams for AMC support, we need to train in unfamiliar locations where we can focus on unexpected situations. The facilities available at Alpena CRTC offer that specific type of training environment.” said Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Thomasson, exercise director for MG21 with AMC. “Training in a new environment allows us to test the skillsets of our Airmen, challenge them to try new ideas, and train them for future tasks. Mobility Guardian is an excellent training exercise to accomplish these goals.”
Alpena CRTC, part of the National All Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC), is located in the upper part of the lower peninsula of Michigan and employs its vast airspace to fit the needs of military units to help ensure warfighting capabilities.
“Having the AMC come here and use our resources is vital for them to assess and validate their capabilities in Rapid Global Mobility missions,” said U.S. Air Force Col. James Rossi, base commander, Alpena CRTC. “This allows the Michigan National Guard to assist Air Mobility Forces to conduct robust and relevant scenario-based full-spectrum readiness training with Combat Air, Joint and Total Force partners to improve command-wide performance in mission essential tasks.”
The special use airspace at the CRTC offers premier training for Department of Defense assets and provides one of the most capable air/ground integration sites in the nation. The training area extends over a portion of Lake Huron, blankets the NADWC, and is supported by three Michigan Air National Guard installations.
“We offer 17,000 miles of military training airspace above the northeast corner of Michigan,” said Rossi. “The airspace access is probably the most important consideration for AMC to train here and offers the largest military airspace east of the Mississippi.”
As AMC accomplishes its two-week flagship exercise, the CRTC’s assets are available and are in full use.
“Alpena CRTC offers unique opportunities we don’t have anywhere else,” said Thomasson. The training facilities on the ground, the airfield and airspace allow us to fly with other aircraft.”
MG21 also enhances total force integration and the unique capability the National Guard can provide between the active duty and reserve components of the Armed Forces.
“It’s been great to partner with the Michigan Air National Guard,” said Thomasson. “We’ve incorporated a lot of Michigan National Guard members in either direct support roles or as participants in the exercise.”
“The Airmen stationed at Alpena CRTC have specialized equipment that observe our aircraft training where we can record our pilots and evaluate where they flew and how well they performed,” he said.
Alpena CRTC offers ample ramp space that can support more than 20 large cargo aircraft or 60 smaller jets. However, the CRTC and the NADWC are more than just physical space. As an important part of the NADWC, Alpena CRTC is a key player for a number of other reasons.
The CRTC can support large units with ease as every AMC wing – including some Total Force units – will participate in or enable MG21 through operations, logistics, maintenance, contingency response, or exercise support.
“We have 1,100 beds available and provide Wi-Fi in each of our buildings for both morale and work,” said Rossi. “Other facilities include laundry services, a dining facility, the River Club, and we can assist in transportation needs of units while here at the base.”
“The CRTC has more than 200 personnel who provide quality customer service for our guests which enables them to focus on their missions and tasks,” he said.
Alpena CRTC also offers training areas for ground tactics. The CRTC can assist commanders in understanding the advantages and disadvantages urbanization offers and its effects on tactical operations with the use of the Military Operations in Urban Training (MOUT) facility.
“We have 640 acres of training space which also includes a MOUT village,” said Rossi. “The village is designed to conduct individual and small unit operations training up to company level and provides a training environment in which units learn the skills necessary to fight and defeat an enemy in an urban environment.”
AMC conducting their exercise in Alpena is significant for the CRTC as AMC tests their Mobility Airmen through a challenging, realistic, and detailed scenario based on relevant real-world security challenges and future conflicts.
“To see exercises like MG21 come to Alpena CRTC is a recognition that we’re on the right path and offering the right services to customers for an all-domain training experience,” said Rossi. “We’re allowing them to exercise some key initiatives to make the whole force better and that is what the Mobility Guardian force is doing.”