Coast Leaders Tour Camp Shelby

The Mississippi National Guard gave coast community leaders a close-up look at Camp Shelby Wednesday.

Military commanders hosted a tour of the training facility and thanked South Mississippi for its continued support.

America's increased reliance on National Guard troops to support the war on terrorism means the training at Camp Shelby is more important than ever.

National Guard commanders say the coast has always been supportive of the guard.

Wednesday's tour was another opportunity to build on that support.

Coast leaders listened to their military tour guides and received a crash course on the mission of Camp Shelby. National Guard commanders say the training facility has always received the support of South Mississippi.

"One of the statements made before was I've never been in a place in my life that supported the military better than the Gulf Coast of Mississippi," said Col. Joe Spraggins of the Air National Guard.

Watching the tight maneuvers of the M1-A1 tank was among the highlights of the training tour. The field trip gave these coast leaders an inside look at the training and emphasizes the importance of the ongoing mission of Camp Shelby.

"Not only to the Army National Guard but to the regular Army. Our Navy Seabees out of Gulfport use these facilities," said Mayor Ken Combs.

Along with watching field maneuvers, leaders toured the new military museum. Supervisor Marlin Ladner was quite impressed with his first visit to Camp Shelby.

"It's tremendous. I did not realize the size of this facility until I arrived here," said Ladner.

Camp Shelby has long been an important military training center. But with the changing events in the world and more emphasis on the National Guard, the role of the facility is even more critical.

"Just this year I've had people deployed to Afghanistan, Korea and Germany. Ten years ago that was unheard of. It's common now," said Col. Gervis Parkerson of the Army National Guard.

It would take more than a day just to see everything at Camp Shelby. The training center is among the largest in the country and covers more than 130 thousand acres.