Thousands of Air Force specialists, stationed around the world, received their technical training at Keesler Air Force base. The Biloxi base trains more than 30,000 students each year.
Technical skill areas include computer operations, air traffic control and ground communications. Those trained at Keesler support such varied operations as Air Force One and the Predator unmanned aircraft, which recently flew missions over Afghanistan.
Keesler students train in a new computer lab that would rival those at major universities. Two and a half million dollars in equipment helps ensure these military trainees are learning on the best.
Technical training will prepare the students for a variety of career choices.
"And that's in various skills all over the base, skills ranging from air traffic control to personnel to some of the more technical ones like computer maintenance and the lab you see here," said Richard Naylor, who commands the 338th Training Squadron.
Following computer basics, the advanced courses teach trouble shooting and building a computer network.
Eric Carter joins other students in a simulation. They've lost technical contact between two military bases.
"Right now we have a base at Langley and one in Hickam. And we're trying to get them to communicate with each other and trying to get our secured lines going, crypto. And see if we can hopefully communicate soon," Carter said.
Down the hall, trainees learn the technical operations of a Tactical Air Operations Module.
The portable units, complete with radar, communications and a power source, can be quickly air lifted anywhere in the world.
Keesler's technical training gets two thumbs up from Derek Woodard and Michael Diaz.
"What brought me here is patriotism toward my country. I want to know I can make a difference by being out here in the real world and helping my country," Airman Woodard said.
Diaz agrees that Keesler's technical training is top notch.
"A lot of technical training. We started out with a lot of electronic principles. Now we've gone into the actual equipment we're going to be working on when we're out in the operational Air Force," Diaz said.
Classroom and technical training at Keesler, will help get them ready for the real world Air Force.