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Empty casino, warehouse part of military exercise in Biloxi

BILOXI — The former Margaritaville Casino and an empty warehouse in East Biloxi will be used by special forces for military training Aug. 1-8.

The Sun Herald reports the city council this past week approved the training exercise that will occur over several nights on air, ground and water.

Naval Special Warfare Command Group 2, which is listed on the paperwork signed by Biloxi officials, is based out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and includes SEALs as well as Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewmen.

Officials said the training is not part of an exercise known as Jade Helm 15, which includes special ops groups from all four branches of the military.

Police Chief John Miller, who was briefed on the plans, said military units and federal law enforcement agencies have been conducting similar exercises in Biloxi for many years.

“They’re very upfront about it,” Miller said. “They come and ask permission and sign official paperwork.”

He said they try to find locations that are quiet, where they won’t bother the public but can practice going into areas undetected.

“They did it last year, too,” said Councilman and Acting Mayor Kenny Glavan.

Special forces have conducted exercises on piers and at other waterfront areas to simulate environments where they may have to fight, he said.

“I think it’s a good thing. It’s terrorism they’re trying to combat,” he said.

City spokesman Vincent Creel said organizers approached Biloxi School District and were given a facilities-use form, but opted not to use a Biloxi Public Schools site.

“Can’t stress enough that the public probably won’t even be aware that this is occurring when it occurs,” Creel said, “save a helicopter or two flying about, which is nothing new in Biloxi or on the Gulf Coast.”

 

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