GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport's Air National Guard Base is getting a new mission focus. Historically, the Gulfport CRTC has primarily focused on the development of aircrews and airborne system. That's not changing, but the critical need for Battlefield Airmen is leading to a new training focus being put in place.
The Battlefield Airmen work alongside ground and special operations forces. In the next few years, they'll be able to get all the training they need on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
"What we will be able to provide is battlefield airmen a dedicated training venue to accomplish what they need without competing at another Air National Guard base for other mission sets that might reside there," said Col. Paul Drake, Battlefield Airmen Center Commander.
Col. Drake said this is just the first step in implementing the new mission focus.
"They are determining right now what are the infrastructure, personnel and equipment needs based on the requirement needs of those Battlefield Airmen," Drake said.
According to a release from the Mississippi Air National Guard, the BAC will produce trained and ready operational forces through increased training opportunities with joint and international partners in South Mississippi. As a result, the Gulfport CRTC will conduct business as the Battlefield Airmen Center.
The newly designated ANG BAC at Gulfport is a certified Joint National Training Site and hosts recurring joint accredited exercises like Southern Strike. Drake said Southern Strike provides ANG Battlefield Airmen the exercise and venue to train with the joint community, which ultimately contributes to the effective global employment of Battlefield Airmen within the joint force.