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Southern Strike kicks off in Mississippi

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

An Air Commando with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, hammers a grounding rod in the ground during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

An Air Commando with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, hammers a grounding rod in the ground during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The generators will be used to power the JSOAD during the two-week long Exercise Southern Strike.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The generators will be used to power the JSOAD during the two-week long Exercise Southern Strike. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

Air Commandos with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron set up generators during the construction of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Miss., Oct. 22, 2016. The 1st Special Operations Wing is participating in Exercise Southern Strike to practice tactical skills and test the capabilities of its Airmen and assets in a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeff Parkinson)

GULFPORT, Miss -- More than 200 Air Commandos assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing arrived here, Oct. 22, for Task Force Exercise Southern Strike.

Southern Strike is a large-scale, conventional and special operations exercise hosted by the Mississippi National Guard at the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center.

“The planning and support team from the 1st Special Operations Mission Support Group and 1st Special Operations Air Operations Squadron have been spectacular,” said Lt. Col. John Ross, the director of operations for the 1st SOAOS “This event will prepare 1st SOW members for future deployments down range. The experience of [Southern Strike] will pay dividends later on in each person’s career.”

The goal of Task Force Exercise Southern Strike is to provide advanced tactical training to 1st SOW Air Commandos and other participants. In order to accomplish this, Airmen with the 1st SOMSG are scheduled to conduct field operations during two separate rotations at Camp Shelby.

In addition to the 1st SOMSG, 1st SOW aircrews assigned to the AC-130U Spooky gunship, MC-130H Combat Talon II, CV-22 Osprey and U-28 aircraft are scheduled to support three, large-war games, multiple bilateral events, and end the exercise with one finale culmination exercise.

“Our 1st SOW members are receiving training within their specialty, while learning about the special operations mission set with Guard and joint partners,” Ross said. “This is really a great opportunity to see how the entire team comes together as we would down range.”