Southern Strike preparing military members for future combat

Southern Strike preparing military members for future combat

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The Mississippi National Guard is hosting a large training exercise called Southern Strike, preparing members of the military for future combat.

Inside the belly of a massive C-17 aircraft, air evacuation crews were busy preparing for a mock medical mission. The first assignment: preparing to handle patients.

"Setting up the aircraft. There's some equipment that we need to take care of our patients, at this point our simulated patients. And that's going to be electrical, oxygen, things like medical equipment that we're going to tie down to the aircraft," said Shillen Goodlin.

Working together with military members from other states and other branches of service is one point of the exercises.

"We may not see these people again until we deploy to a location. And so it's really good to get to train with each other. And not just for the AE but for the front end crews," said participant, Megan Clifton.

Inside the command center, leaders can oversee the mock battles taking place out in the gulf, over the Chandeleur Islands.

"What we've done is we've written a scenario that's ripped from the headlines where we have crises that mirror exactly what's happening in the Middle East, in Africa and all of Eastern Europe. We're trying to make it so that when a guy goes into combat he really feels prepared," said Col. Craig Ziemba, the director of Southern Strike.

Major Sarah Nickloes is a refueling specialist who just returned from active duty in the Middle East. She says flying sorties over the gulf provides the perfect training.

"They can get more support sorties and they can provide more training because they're able to stay in air much longer. They can come back to us, get refueling and then go back and get in the fight," said Nickloes.

The Southern Strike war games continue through Nov. 6.

Southern Strike has grown tremendously over the past four years. In the first year, pilots made just 50 flights or sorties. This year's exercise will include 750 sorties.

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