The Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) continues to evolve as the base of operations for the Air National Guard (ANG) Special Warfare Airmen Center (SWAC). In 2016, the Director, Air National Guard (DANG) sought to refocus the missions of the ANGs four CRTCs. The DANG determined the Gulfport CRTC, based on its proximity to ranges and training areas along with the favorable year-round weather, was the most viable option to support ANG Special Warfare training.
What types of training do Special Warfare Airmen (SWA) receive, and how is that training different from the past?
The SWAC trains year-round at Gulfport CRTC. There are three training events every year known as Magnolia Strike; as well as, a major ANG sponsored, Joint National Training Center-accredited exercise called SOUTHERN STRIKE. At these events SWA conduct specialized training in many areas, some of which are: Close-Quarters Combat (CQC), Heavy Weapons familiarization/training/qualification, Tactical Combat Casualty Course (TCCC), Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction System (FRIES), Close Air Support (CAS), Digitally-Aided Close Air Support (DACAS), breaching, and all other required ground combat skills training through realistic full-mission profiles.
How do weapons and tactics planners make each Magnolia Strike unique?
Our planning staff works directly with participating unit leadership to create a fully-customized, two-week training plan that focuses specifically on that unit’s training shortfalls that can only be accomplished at Gulfport CRTC. The planners handle logistics, intelligence and communications products, range reservations, and airspace deconfliction and coordination.
Why is this type of training important to improving joint force operations in theater?
Every event is hosted at Gulfport CRTC and planned by the weapons and tactics planners, who include participants from multiple joint agencies working directly with our ANG SWA to prepare them to operate in a real-world joint combat environment. This training at the SWAC is important because it aims to develop, deliver, and enable a continuum of individual, staff, and collective joint training to enhance the operational effectiveness of the current and future ANG SWA.
What plans are being made for the future of SWAC?
The SWAC will soon have a Strike Cell (War Room) to train SWA, Joint Operations Center, and other staff-level personnel using an affordable and effective live, virtual, and constructive environment that replicates the current environment in theater. The Strike Cell will enable observation of exercises, can serve as a Command and Control Junction node, facilitate white cell management of training events, as well as facilitate the integration of aircraft simulations and MQ- Unmanned Aerial Systems kinetic strike training.”
Special Warfare Airmen Center (SWAC)
Additionally, the SWAC is developing a robust Digitally-Aided Close Air Support (DACAS) training that will enhance Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) readiness through the use of scenario-driven events in Gulfport and realistic, live training exercises at the Air-to-Ground Range (Rattlesnake Range). DACAS systems are tools used to transfer target and situational awareness information between the JTACs, operations centers, aircraft, and fire support systems. DACAS enables this transfer of information efficiently and with greater accuracy, thus increasing the safety for our ANG SWA.
Finally, ANG JTACs will be conducting proficiency and upgrade training with Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center (ACC/AMIC) with Contract Close Air Support (CCAS) aircraft on a routine basis. CCAS airframes are civilian aircraft that are armed and replicate military attack aircraft, but provide the same realism and effectiveness when it comes to training and proficiency. This training allows for ANG JTAC Airmen to remain current and qualified to the best possible extent. This arrangement also assists in alleviating some of the stress and scheduling conflicts due to real world mission requirements of our ANG SWA.
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