GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippians may notice an increase in military aircraft activity over the next couple of weeks as 2,200 service members participate in Southern Strike 2017.
The Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport will host the two-week long war game from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4. Members of the Mississippi Air National Guard, Army, Navy, and Marine Special Forces will participate in the massive combat exercise.
"Southern Strike is a large-scale war game where Air National Guardsmen and Army Guardsmen from all over America come to train with conventional and special forces," said Southern Strike Joint Forces Commander Col. Craig Ziemba. "The way we do that is we build a scenario that simulates the type of combat they will be involved in down range."
The operation will give service members a chance to train for several scenarios, including counterinsurgency, air supremacy, close air support, en route casualty care, non-combatant evacuation, maritime, and riverine special operations events.
Ziemba said South Mississippi's diverse geography and access to the Gulf of Mexico and facilities at Camp Shelby create the perfect training environment.
"We have a variety of islands, gulf oil platforms, river environments, jungle environments, and we have the Camp Shelby range, which is 135,000 acres all owned and operated by the Mississippi Guard," said Ziemba. "We have a huge environment where we can practice a variety of conventional and special operations exercises."
More than 300 flight operations involving more than 20 types of military aircraft are scheduled during the training.