March 13, 2012 In News
JACKSON—Gov. Phil Bryant today reestablished by his first Executive Order the Mississippi Military Communities Council. The council will promote Mississippi’s military missions at the national level and advise Gov. Bryant and legislative officials on actions that could potentially impact the missions and Mississippi communities that support military operations.
“Mississippi’s military missions and installations play a vital role in the safety and security of our state and our nation, creating significant economic impacts in the communities that support them,” Gov. Bryant said. “I have appointed a council of experts who will help me not only defend our existing military missions and communities but also help identify mission growth opportunities for Mississippi. I appreciate the willingness of these individuals to serve the interests of our state.”
The council formed in the early 1990s as an informal association of community members interested in protecting and promoting military missions in Mississippi. Former Gov. Kirk Fordice formally established the council by Executive Order. Each military community in Mississippi names members to its own working group and designates a senior member to work closely with the state-level designation. Senior members of the Legislature serve on the council, and the governor appoints council leadership positions.
Bryant appointed former Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard Bill Freeman as chairman.
“I am honored to be appointed by Gov. Bryant to this position, and I am dedicated to protecting our military missions and installations,” Gen. Freeman said. Ingalls Shipbuilding Director of Government and Community Affairs Jim McIngvale was appointed as vice chairperson, and former chairman of the Columbus Air Force Base 2020 committee and retired colonel Nick Ardillo was appointed member-at-large of the council.
Council members will work to promote and protect Mississippi’s military interests in the face of dwindling federal funding and possible reorganization and reprioritization of base missions and operations throughout the country. Despite squeezed budgets and proposed cutbacks throughout the Armed Forces, Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg recently secured a permanent facility to train soldiers from around the nation on operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
The new National Guard Unmanned Aircraft System Regional Flight Center is expected to bring more than $48 million in new equipment to Camp Shelby. The National Guard installation was selected from a pool of 19 other sites nationally.
Mississippi is home to four federal military bases, two Army National Guard installations, three Air National Guard units and 85 National Guard Readiness Centers. Military operations in the state create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and are estimated to generate more than $2.5 billion in annual economic impact.
Mississippi federal military bases:
· Columbus Air Force Base, Columbus
· Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi
· Meridian Naval Air Station, Meridian
· Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport
· Mississippi Army National Guard installations:
o Camp McCain, Duck Hill
o Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg
· Mississippi Air National Guard bases:
o Trent Lott Combat Readiness Training Center, Gulfport
o 172nd Airlift Wing, Thompson Field, Flowood
o 186th Air Refueling Wing, Key Field, Meridian