The Gadsden County Board of Commissioners approved a request to conduct realistic military training by the United States Special Operations Command.
The event referred to as “ISO Emerald Warrior 14” will occur April 28 through May 8 and will involve Bay, Jackson, Liberty, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin and Gadsden counties.
According to Travis Hucklebee, from United States Special Operations Command, the company that is coordinating the event, a similar training exercise was conducted in this area in 2012.
The event, he explained to the board, will involve between 200 and 300 participants from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, DEA, Diplomatic Security Service and Department of Homeland Security.
The purpose of the event is to create realistic military training outside of federally-owned property in order to give those participating real-time experiences and provide a number of real obstacles to challenge them, he stated.
Hucklebee said that when an exercise was being conducted in Gadsden County, that local law enforcement would be contacted as well as nearby residents.
If a training exercise occurs in the county, he said, there would be no live ammunition used, only blanks.
The past Emerald Warrior exercises have resulted in approximately $250,000 per exercise going back into the local economy, he said.
There will be an increase of military ground, air and maritime traffic and there could be noise complaints during the event, he said.
He also explained that only federally-licensed pyrotechnics operators will be utilized in various scenarios.
Personnel may be carrying weapons with blank ammo and some will be wearing civilian attire and driving civilian vehicles.
The board approved the invitation to train in Gadsden County in a 5-0 vote.