Northern Lightning exercise begins at Volk Field

Local News

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Southwest Wisconsin is playing host to an annual military exercise that is taking over the skies of Camp Douglas.

First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff shares how the training will help each branch work together more effectively.

Nearly 1,000 military personnel are on-hand at Volk Field for the annual Northern Lightning joint-training exercise.

Starting in the early 2000s and expanding in 2015, the main goal of the training is for the different military branches to work together more effectively.

“When we have so many participants from Navy, Marine Corps, [National] Guard, active-duty Air Force, that joint training is something that’s valuable because when we actually do deploy in a combat environment, that’s the type of environment we’ll be in,” Exercise Director Lt. Col. Ben Staats said.

Northern Lightning has been taking place at Volk Field since 2016, and it’s a site which its commander says has the ideal airspace for holding such a wide array of participants.

“Think of us as a football field, we bring in all the other players, so F-18s, sometimes we bring F-35s, we’ve brought in multiple different types of aircrafts so they can work together,” Col. Leslie Zyzda-Martin said.

Col. Zyzda-Martin says the base has tried to improve the exercise each year…learning from the past to plan for the future.

“So we took feedback from last year from the participants as well as those people that are here supporting us to see how we can do it better,” Zyzda-Martin. “To make it easier on the personnel, to make it cheaper, to make it more efficient, and to bring in more capabilities.”

Staats says the training will not only make the pilots and crew better individually, but will improve the efficiency of each branch of the military that’s involved.

“We have Air Force personnel that typically train with Air Force personnel and don’t get a lot of training with Navy, with Marine Corps,” Staats said. “Walking out and seeing the differences, similarities and developing a best practice that they can then take forward when they go into the actual combat environment and use those lessons learned will help be a more effective fighting force.”

Components of the exercise include operating in a contested airspace with adversary aircraft, along with simulated surface-to-air threats.

At Camp Douglas, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The general public can expect increased aircraft activity around Camp Douglas area.

The training will be taking place from now through August 20.

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