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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2022

Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers conduct joint law enforcement training during NS-22

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

As Northern Strike 22-2, the country’s largest National Guard Bureau-sponsored military exercise, enters its second week, Soldiers with an Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA), 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Massachusetts Army National Guard, teamed up with multiple law enforcement agencies to conduct joint interoperability training.

This training scenario took place August 10th and consisted of a law enforcement team already in-country.

“As a 12-man ODA, our main job as a force multiplier is to actually work by, with, and through a partner force, whether that’s local police, national police, or other Army special operations,” said a Green Beret with 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, Alabama Army National Guard, which is the headquarters for the Massachusetts unit. “This helps to build professional relationships and depending on the actual mission, strengthens internal security of that country of allied nations and to build partnerships.”

During Northern Strike 22-2, approximately 7,400 participants from 19 states and several coalition countries including Canada, Latvia, and the United Kingdom participated in the training to validate readiness of the joint and reserve force. This year’s exercise also included civilian law enforcement.

“The Battle Creek Police Department is happy to support the Northern Strike 22-2 exercise and to provide future training support,” said Jessica Vanderkolk, communications manager for the City of Battle Creek. "We are a proud military community - home to the 110th Wing Air National Guard Base and Fort Custer - and collaborations like this are vital to everyone’s success."

Soldiers making up the ODA in the Army National Guard practice unconventional methods for fighting while using an innovative approach.

“In special forces, we fight with partners and allies and very seldom fight unilaterally and we’re trying to replicate a scenario that’s in the EUCOM (United States European Command) theater,” said Army Lt. Col. Colby Broadwater, commander of 1st Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group. “We are trying to cover the depth and breadth of Michigan for urban facilities and partner with law enforcement to have realistic training, like we would in the EUCOM Theater.”

“This is why we came to the Battle Creek Police Department to help us achieve this urban training,” he added.

Northern Strike primarily takes place within the National All-Domain Warfighting Center at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, but the Special Forces group took advantage of Michigan’s opportunities to train elsewhere.

“We are trying to spread out across the state because we don’t operate in a centralized area,” said Broadwater. “I have Soldiers operating all the way to Alpena, Battle Creek, and the Mackinac Bridge who are conducting specialized tasks. Being able to come down here was important to use a large-scale facilities that mirror some of the scenarios in Europe that we might face.”

During the scenario, the responding forces received intelligence that a foreign adversary has their own special operations working within a semi-permissive territory.

“We are trying to counter the near-peer special operations activities within the area and the team is a mix between multiple law enforcement agencies such as the Battle Creek Michigan Police Department, the Illinois State Police, and other agencies,” said the Green Beret.

These partnerships can be mutually beneficial, to include both shared ownership and responsibility. By establishing seamless partnerships, the National Guard can enable a clearly defined network of support with a collaborative effort of all of its partners at the local, state, and federal levels and strengthening existing partnerships at the federal/national level to improve coordination of services statewide.

“There are multiple levels that are beneficial to this type of training,” said the Green Beret. “It’s likely the National Guard would be working with local agencies in a real world situation under an emergency response and we’re getting the repetitions during training to become more efficient in a real-world situation.”

“Each group operates differently and bringing everyone together is imperative to accomplish the mission,” he added.

Working with multiple agencies can have intangible benefits as well.

“It’s always good to get a fresh set of eyes on your tactics and put your eyes on other people’s tactics and take what works,” the Green Beret said. “There is always room for improvement and this type of cross training is valuable.”