Michigan Army National Guard health care specialists prepare for Operation Northern Strike 2016

Spc. Sarah Satkowiak and Pfc. Jacqueline Finkbiner, health care specialists with the Michigan National Guard, 1171st Area Support Medical Company based in Ypsilanti, evaluate a simulated casualty to determine the appropriate aid to provide during an exercise at the Ypsilanti Armory, June 4, 2016. The 1171st ASMC is preparing for their medical support role during Operation Northern Strike, a large-scale military training exercise taking place at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center, the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center and in Rogers City, Aug. 1-20, 2016. (Michigan National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Oposnow/Released)

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Story by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Oposnow

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard, 1171st Area Support Medical Company trained at the Ypsilanti armory, June 4-5, in preparation for the Guard’s primary summer exercise, Operation Northern Strike, which is scheduled for most of the month of August at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center. During the exercise, 1171st ASMC Soldiers will provide medical aid during scenarios designed to simulate a variety of ailments and injuries.

“We want our medics to be extremely well-rounded, extremely well-experienced. This drill weekend was the perfect opportunity to do that,” said Maj. Timothy Findlay, commander of the 1171st ASMC. “It’s been a busy year for us, but the Soldiers of the 1171st rarely complain because more activity means more experience and greater success should their skills be needed on an actual battlefield or during a state or national emergency. I am honored to lead this hard-working group of life-savers.”

Recently, 1171st ASMC trained for mass casualty events to support the state’s national C2CRE (Command and Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Response Element) readiness mission. Preparation and planning for a mass casualty exercise engages all unit members at all skill levels functioning in less-than-favorable conditions to maximize scenario realism. Support during the Northern Strike exercise however, will be in a more traditional role as intermediate Soldier care providers treating pseudo heat, fatigue, and environmental-related illnesses, dressing wounds, performing CPR and related actions less severe than dealing with mass casualties.

According to Findlay, Northern Strike will be the third training mission of the year for the 1171st. Normally, Soldiers complete two-weeks of training each year but 35 members of his unit volunteered for an additional four days to be able to support the summer exercise.

“Probably the biggest reason we are eager to participate in the Northern Strike exercise is we want the state and the Michigan National Guard as a whole, to be successful. When there is a mission, we want allies and partners to call on us with confidence that we will get the job done and get it done right. We get it. There is a lot on the line,” said Findlay.

Northern Strike will bring together approximately 5,000 service members, including Army, Air Force, Marines and Special Forces, from 20 states and three coalition countries to conduct combined ground and air exercises at Camp Grayling and the Alpena Readiness Training Center, and in Rogers City from August 1 to August 20. Northern Strike is the largest exercise of this size and scope for the Michigan National Guard. The exercise integrates ground-based weapon systems like mortars and artillery with multiple attack aircrafts to support maneuver forces on the ground.

Watch for more information about the 1171st and Operation Northern Strike to be posted on the Michigan National Guard website, www.minationalguard.com.

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