The RCTA, located at the NAS, Meridian, MS, began as a component of the law enforcement agency sponsored, congressionally directed, Gulf States Counterdrug Initiative (GSCI).
The purpose of the GSCI was “to identify resources, services, and support that can be legitimately provided by DOD components and agencies to support counterdrug activities along the U.S. southern coastal region.”
Although sponsored by law enforcement, six U.S. Senators, nineteen U.S. Representatives, and three state Governors heavily endorsed the GSCI proposal. One of the provisions of the GSCI document was a request by the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi senior drug law enforcement agencies (DLEAs) to establish a counterdrug training academy with the mission of training law enforcement officers in counterdrug skills. The Academy mission was initially focused on the three requesting states, but, beginning January 1, 1997, the state of Georgia became an official member of the GSCI.
In addition to the GSCI states, the RCTA provides training to law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., including the National Guardsmen involved in counterdrug support missions. This training is provided at no cost to the law enforcement officers or agencies. The only cost incurred by the agency is the transportation to and from the Academy. National Guard personnel do not incur a tuition cost, but are responsible for their own per diem and travel.
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Based upon the LEA request for DOD “support” (defined as funding, administrative, logistical, equipment, personnel, etc.), and with guidance and resources provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support, and the National Guard Bureau (NGB), the Mississippi National Guard accepted the mission of establishing a regional training center outlined in the GSCI document.
Initially it was decided that the training center would be located on the Naval Air Station in Meridian, MS. A decision was made to renovate the former Officers Club and make it the home of the new “Regional Counterdrug Training Academy.” A military commandant, Lieutenant Colonel James P. Hills, was appointed in March 1992. His immediate mission was to coordinate with the law enforcement community, the U.S. Navy, National Guard Bureau, and the Department of Defense to establish a training center to meet the needs of the law enforcement officers who would attend.
Also in March of 1992, a Board of Representatives was selected to help develop academic policy, monitor operations, create a curriculum, and provide support in promoting the RCTA. The Board of Representatives consisted of one representative from the senior law enforcement agency in the member states, the Director of the NGB Counterdrug Task Force, and the Mississippi National Guard Adjutant General.
Due to the length of time required to renovate the Officers Club, and due to the immediate need for training, a temporary classroom was established in the ballroom of the Combined Bachelor’s Quarters (CBQ), NAS Meridian. Two excess mobile homes were obtained at no charge from the Army Corps of Engineers, and served as administrative and logistics space. With the signing of the Inter-Service Support Agreement with the U.S. Navy, and additional support staff on board, the first class was conducted at the RCTA in September of 1992.
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