Critical training is extremely important for the safety and well-being of the troops serving in the Mississippi National Guard.
This week at the Grenada Municipal Airport, airmen and top military officials are continuing to use local resources for combat preparations after beginning training late last week. The 2nd Battalion, 185th Aviation Brigade trained at the airport last Friday and Saturday, setting up qualified air traffic controllers and other equipment such as radars and a control tower for mock exercises. Military officials said the training allows for increased safety in aerial operations.
“From a combat prospective, this type of training is extremely important,” Col. Andrew Rendon, Commander for the 185th Aviation Brigade, said. “In combat, you can have civilian air traffic that can completely go down and the infrastructure and is out. We train for those situations.”
Last Saturday, troops with the visiting Battalion could be seen at every point of the airport, working on equipment, setting up generators, monitoring radar and comparing notes during the training.
At the radar station, Sgt. Clinton Sacks described just how important this type of training comes into play.
“During this training, we’re looking at the great scope,” Sacks said. “With this radar, we can advise aircraft from 100 miles out. The altitude, lining the aircraft with the runway, we have to look at all of this. During combat, you’re also dealing with the elements such as sandstorms.”
Lt. Col. Frank Tackett, Aviation Regiment Commander for the 2nd Battalion, 185th Aviation Brigade, said troops are training for homeland defense, such as those overseas, and homeland security, which covers the spectrum of terrorism and natural disasters.
“We all remember Hurricane Katrina,” Tackett said. “When events such as that happen, that’s when we come into the picture. The civilian air traffic controllers will also be affected by something like checking on their own families or infrastructure crumbling.”
In 2017, the Mississippi National Guard acquired 25 acres from the City of Grenada to be utilized for training, weather-safe storage and air traffic control for military and civilian purposes. The Greater Grenada Partnership facilitated and finalized the agreement as a long-term lease that will serve as a multi-purpose operations center for Camp McCain.
Col. Guy Reedy, Commander at Camp McCain in Grenada, was also on hand meeting with other top military official and to witness the training.
“We have all types of units that come through Grenada,” Reedy said. “This is a large scale exercise and we welcome them.”
Grenada native Jacob Lindsey is chief warrant officer for the 2nd Battalion, 185th Aviation Brigade and is a 2004 graduate of Grenada High School. Lindsey said none of this would be possible without the community engagement.
“Most of these guys don’t have homes nearby, so Camp McCain, the City of Grenada and the community has made the training at the airport critical for us,” Lindsey concluded. “The time spent at the airport could not have been possible without that support.”