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First Army Leads Multi-State Mobilization Exercise From HQ on Arsenal Island

Spc. Michael Larson aims a machine gun as part of the Mobilization Exercise in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Trenton Lowery
Spc. Michael Larson aims a machine gun as part of the exercise in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

A major military exercise that began last week continues this week in five states.

From its headquarters on Arsenal Island, First Army is leading thousands of soldiers in an annual exercise called the Pershing Strike 23. It's designed to test the Army's ability to mobilize during emergencies.

Col. Shawn Creamer is First Army's operations officer. He says the training is important for soldiers and civilian workers to identify potential problems.

Col. Shawn Creamer
Col. Shawn Creamer

"It's important for us to also practice and work through how we would tackle some of these challenges that we have," he said. "And they're not all just based off of an enemy situation, but it's also, how would we deal with a massive hurricane making landfall at one of our training sites? What would that do to our timeline? How would we react?"

The Pershing Strike scenario is different every year. The first one was in 2020.

This year, more than 3,000 soldiers, civilians, and contractors from Illinois, Kansas, Georgia, Indiana, and Wisconsin are participating. And for the first time, representatives from the Army National Guard and Medical Command joined the exercise.

Col. Creamer says the exercise means long days for the soldiers.

"This week, we're doing 15 hour days, so our day starts at 6 o'clock in the morning and it goes until nine p.m. at night."

The details of the First Army exercise are classified. It began last Tuesday and will end Friday.

Soldiers in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Trenton Lowery
Soldiers in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.