Special Report: War Games

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"It's pretty tough," said Sgt. Tara Gamble.

 

This drill counts.

It's military police doing a stress reflexive fire exercise. Between push-ups, MPs shoot at specific colored targets as the orders are called out. It's not easy. And it's just part of the grueling Army Warrior Challenge.

"It's pretty tough," said Sgt. Tara Gamble of the Michigan National Guard. "It's very extensive training. They have 'evaluate a casualty,' there's weapons training out here, there's ranges."

It's all set up to imitate what it's like when these MPs go overseas, where they do a lot of urban operations.

"There's actually personnel role-playing so that it's actually simulated real-life what we would do overseas," Sgt. Gamble explained. "Clearing, searching individuals, asking questions as military police do."

This challenge is just one example of what goes on at Camp Grayling during Operation Northern Strike, a two-week intense training period.

"There are Air Force, as in Air Guard assets, as well as Army and Army National Guard assets," said Sgt. Adam Swager of the Michigan National Guard.

Today we have Sgt. Swager as our guide, navigating a base spread across three sites in the Northern Lower Peninsula.

We were able to get a bird's eye view in a Chinook, to get a feel for just how large this base is. In fact, it is the largest National Guard base in the country. Military members come to Camp Grayling from not only across the U.S., but from Canada, Lithuania and Latvia.

"It's excellent training opportunities with different aircraft, with different procedures," explained Lt. Col. Agrus Ozolins of the Latvian Defense Forces.

"We don't have such big range," echoed Latvian Defense Forces Lt. Col. Gunars Kaulins.

The Latvian representatives tell us coming to Camp Grayling is a highly valuable experience. Units are also here from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, New York and other states. They come because it is so unique.

"We've got a lot of hills to really test the skills of those navigators and artillery men, anybody trying to deal with uneven terrain," Swager explained.

It's not just the geography either. The facilities are state-of-the-art. Case in point? A $14 million set-up that looks like a movie set. And, in a sense, it is. This so-called city is equipped with hundreds of cameras. Today, military VIPs are checking out the simulated Taliban stronghold. There's everything from smoke to simulated IEDs. Dummies are set up for troops to shoot at, and they can essentially shoot back at troops.

It's all, as Sgt. Swager puts it, to be as prepared as possible.

"Anytime you find yourself in another country, in another part of the world, trying to accomplish a mission like securing hostile ground, there are unknown factors that come into that," he said.

Here, they're trying to eliminate as many as they can.


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