Northern Strike 17: 146 ASOS integrates with sister services, maintains readiness during Nat’l Guard strike exercise
By Senior Airman Tyler Woodward, 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 12, 2017
ALPENA, Mich. -- Tactical air control party specialists from the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron from Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City, controlled airspace during the combined-joint force exercise Northern Strike 17 at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, July 31 to Aug. 11 2017.
Participants in the exercise included Soldiers from the U.S. Army, Army National Guard, and NATO allies including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Canada. Twenty two members of the 146 ASOS joined more than 40 other TACPs from different services and nations and made up the largest contingent of air controllers in the exercise.
“This training has been awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Zach Scheffler, a TACP specialist and instructor with the 146 ASOS. “Especially for the younger guys — they’ve never had the opportunity to integrate with Marines, Navy, Army, ground and air.”
Northern Strike, the largest air-to-ground National Guard strike exercise, afforded ground commanders the uncommon training opportunity to expand operational capabilities with fixed and rotary wing close air support.
“These JTACs are the key link to close air support for us.” said Capt. James Roe, Arizona Army National Guard A-158 Infantry commander. “Actually having them out here calling in birds for us ... this is a big deal!”
The diverse training opportunities gave many 146 ASOS Airmen opportunities to learn new skills and maintain proficiencies required for deployment. Whether maneuvering on the ground with an infantry unit or controlling airspace from a helicopter, TACP specialists were asked to rapidly produce organized and precise air power.
“This exercise is very beneficial, and it’s only getting bigger,” said Scheffler. “It seems like there is more stuff to do every time we come out here.”
Master Sgt. Jason Kinney, non-commissioned officer in charge of Northern Strike, emphasized the significance of this training for the 72 total TACPs and the 6,000 plus Army, Marines and Navy personnel.
“This exercise ultimately comes down to integration, communication and execution,” said Kinney. “What they do here is very important and the skill set everyone is learning is invaluable.”