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    Mississippi National Guard Hosts Southern Strike 2018

    Locating the LZ

    Photo By Sgt. Shawn Keeton | Sgt. William Downer, a crew chief with Company B, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Justin Humphreys 

    102d Public Affairs Detachment

    GULFPORT, Miss. – The largest integration exercise led and hosted by the Air National Guard completed operations at Gulfport’s Combat Readiness Training Center – Battlefield Airman Center and other sites Nov. 2.

    Southern Strike 2018, which was conducted from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3, 2017, is an annual event that tests the joint force’s ability to operate together in uncertain combat conditions.

    “Southern Strike 2018 is the largest integration exercise that is led and hosted by Air National Guard that incorporates special operation forces as well as conventional forces,” said David Sutherland, program manager for the exercise. “All those units come here to be able to integrate in with Air National Guard and Army National Guard platforms that they will then deploy with in the future and have that capability, so that the first time they are doing that isn’t when they are in combat.”

    The exercise is important because it’s a joint operation, and service members must be able to work with others in different branches across the entire military.

    “No service, whether it’s the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines, operates independently at all anymore,” said Cpt. Jason Spradlin, commander of the Military Intelligence Detachment, 2d Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, Mississippi Army National Guard. “The Army couldn’t do what they do without the other branches; and in this exercise in particular (they need) the air side to provide support for the ground units. Joint training is the reality they’re going to face when they’re out in the real world running real missions.”

    Although the exercise was hosted by the Mississippi Air National Guard, service members from 33 states and seven partner nations traveled overseas to participate in or support the exercise.

    More than 1,460 service members operated from or supported the exercise from the CRTC-BAC and the ranges at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, 40 miles to the north near Hattiesburg, Miss. Hundreds more participated from their home stations throughout the Gulf Coast.

    Participating nations included the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Chile, and Uzbekistan, said Air Force Lt. Col. Billy Murphy, deputy exercise director of Southern Strike 2018.

    “Generally, with exercises all over the country, you’re going to have different units from different states coming together because in an overseas environment you could be working with people from anywhere,” said Air Force 2nd. Lt. Whitney Norris, Tactical Air Control Party intelligence officer and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance liaison officer of the 165th Air Support Operation Squadron, Georgia Air National Guard. “I think it is good networking and good practice at working with people you haven’t usually worked with before.”

    The training is beneficial for the military, the Mississippi National Guard, and the citizens of South Mississippi.

    “The benefits coming to South Mississippi are the fact that we have a greater economic impact, bringing all the units over fifty states into the area as well as international partners,” said Army Col. James Haynie, Southern Strike exercise director. “On top of that, the military’s actually training like it needs to before it goes overseas, so there’s a national defense component to this as well that’s going to protect our local population. The aero medical piece is critical to domestic operations since we are a hurricane-prone area.”

    The governor of Mississippi and the adjutant general also came to visit the service members participating in the exercise and gain a better understanding of the event and its progression.

    “It gives us that opportunity to join with people from all over the United States and all over the world in this joint operation,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. “Not only do we reach out and make relationships that can last for years and years, it gives us a different dimension. It shows Mississippi’s continuing to help lead in military training.”



    Date Taken: 11.01.2017
    Date Posted: 12.06.2017 09:39
    Story ID: 253786

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