CAMP SHELBY, MS (WLOX) - National Guard troops are busy training at Camp Shelby this week. Hundreds of military and civilians are taking part in an exercise called Patriot South 2017. The drill is all about responding to natural disasters.
Military helicopters roared overhead at Camp Shelby's Joint Forces Training Center on Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of military and civilians will train together for the next three days, focusing on response to natural disasters.
"They're working on like how to get resources in the area and to do that the most expeditious way they can. You want to make this down to a science, so the quicker the response, the better. It just eases any kind of suffering," said Lt. Col. Roger Brooks, the exercise director.
The training is a joint exercise between the military and Mississippi emergency responders, including the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security. Both sides learn cooperation and teamwork.
Jim Brinson is with the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security.
"Our teams have a better understanding how military assets operate and how it can enhance their search and rescue capabilities. As well as the military sees how we operate on the civilian side and how we conduct our business. I think it's an excellent opportunity for both sides to see how each other work and we're able to accomplish a mission," he said.
"Guardsmen and civilians working together, establishing that relationship to ease and mitigate the suffering of any event you'd see, like we had a few days ago," said Lt. Col. Brooks.
Participants will learn to respond to a variety of natural disasters, whether it be a hurricane, flash flooding or a tornado like the one that tore through the pine belt just over a week ago.
"I got a firsthand look at that the last few days and it's a stark reminder of exactly why we're here and what we're here to do," said the director.
Along with Camp Shelby, troops are also training at Port Bienville in Hancock County. The communications and command are at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport.
The Patriot South 2017 exercise involves National Guard troops from Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.