From July 19 to July 31 Lithuanian troops have been taking part in Northern Strike 20 exercise at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard.
Northern Strike is a Joint National Training Center accredited exercise aimed to provide opportunities for all military branches to increase proficiency integrating mission command, air, sea and ground maneuvers. The exercise also presents a premier opportunity for Army futures and defense industry's partners to test emerging technologies for the future warfare. The exercise is modeled after a realistic combat scenario.
A total of more than 2,300 personnel participate in Northern Strike 20, including Army and Air National Guard forces from California, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Active duty forces from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and NATO partner countries.
Lithuanian component is presented by 180 soldiers from the Motorised Infantry Brigade "Žemaitija". As to compare, in 2019 Lithuania sent only 3 soldiers. Although exercise is sponsored by the National Guard Bureau, Lithuanian Defence Ministry has spent almost 450,000 U.S. dollars.
Despite COVID-19 pandemic the exercise is carried out in accordance with previously approved plans. Michigan National Guard medical officials have worked with public health authorities to incorporate COVID-19 precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Countermeasures include social distancing, required use of masks when social distancing is not possible, and frequent sanitization.