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      Camp Grayling hosts thousands of soldiers in new training program

      Five thousand soldiers from five different states are at Camp Grayling for a combat training program that is being held in northern Michigan for the first time.

      The program is called Exportable Combat Training Capability or XCTC for short.

      â??Itâ??ll be pretty exciting over the next couple weeks,â?? said Garrison Commander Camp Grayling Col. Eric Randall. â??Weâ??re so happy to have it here. Iâ??ve worked hard with my team to pull this all together the last couple of years.â??

      XCTC has been a training program for National Guard soldiers since 2005. Soldiers work on artillery and lane training, and are evaluated once the two week program is completed.

      â??The only way to really become proficient at your military skill is to do it, and train at it in the most realistic situation that you can,â?? said Randall. â??We also like to say, train like you fight so thatâ??s what the XCTC is really, itâ??s training just like youâ??re going to fight over seas in combat, and itâ??s going to literally save soldiersâ?? lives just by doing this.â??

      Camp Grayling now has the training program on the schedule every summer until 2018, and the community is supportive of the event.

      â??Itâ??s definitely going to be a boom to the economy in our county and our area,â?? said Fox Run Country Club Owner Bob Koutnik. â??We really welcome that many people in, itâ??s kind of a first time for us to see that many people in many many years.â??

      That could mean a huge economic impact for Crawford County.

      â??Itâ??s a tremendous economic impact that takes place,â?? said Randall. â??The National Guard Bureau estimates five million dollars will be brought into local community just through having the program.â??

      Camp Grayling has also hired about 60 community members to help with drills during the training program.

      The program is just over two weeks and runs from July 12th to July 27th.