GRAYLING -- The hot Michigan sun is high in the sky as a Marine lays flat against the dry sand looking through his rifle optic at the battle space spread out in-front of him. Beside him, his fellow Marine fills sand bags and places them around their fighting positions. For the Marines of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, this is the beginning of their final event during Exercise Northern Strike 18, ending their two week annual training.
Northern Strike is a military readiness event hosted annually by the Michigan National Guard at Camp Grayling, Michigan. The exercise is one of the largest Reserve component exercises, with attendance of approximately 5,000 participating U.S. Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors, as well as service members from other NATO countries.
This year, Marines from 3/25 participated in the exercise from Aug. 5-15. The Marines also received additional augmentation and support from 4th Assault Amphibious Battalion, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Dental Battalion and Combat Logistics Battalion 451.
Camp Grayling is one of the largest National Guard training centers in the country, spanning 147,000 acres. It offers a variety of live-fire range and training opportunities. For the Marines of 3/25, made up of three line companies; Kilo, India, and Lima and one Weapons Company, they were divided by company and spread between the ranges, rotating after every event. The major ranges included land navigation, platoon attack, company attack, and company defense.
During the platoon attack and company attack, each company integrated with amphibious assault vehicles from 4th AABn, practicing off-loading and on-loading during live-fire drills. During the company attack, companies also integrated with 4th Tanks and 4th LAR, which provided fire and reconnaissance support.
Besides integrating with other Marine Corps assets, the Marines of Kilo Company showcased their interoperability by training with four British Royal Marines from the Royal Marine Reserves, where they shadowed their U.S. counterparts and filled key billets of platoon commanders and platoon sergeants, learning tactics and techniques.
Northern Strike plays an important role in making sure the Marines of 3/25 are ready to fight tonight, serving as one of the major check points before Integrated Training Exercise 2019 in Twentynine Palms, California.