Colonel Paul Drake is the Commander, Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) Gulfport, MS. The primary mission of the CRTC Gulfport is to provide an integrated, year round, realistic joint training environment (Air Space, Ranges, Systems, Facilities, and Equipment) for units to enhance their capability and combat readiness. The CRTC is certified as a National Training Center emphasizing Special Operations Forces (SOF), Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD), Close Air Support (CAS), En-Route Casualty Care (ERCC) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). Colonel Drake is responsible for all operations of the Combat Readiness Training Center, which includes the Shelby East and West Air to Ground Gunnery Ranges, five drop zones, C-17/C-130/C-27 Assault Strip, the Air Combat Training System and all associated airspace. The CRTC is an Aerial Port of Embarkation/Debarkation in support of Contingency Operations worldwide. Also located on the installation are the 255th Air Control Squadron, 209th Special Operations Civil Engineering Squadron, 890th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Battalion 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and the 1108th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group.
Colonel Drake graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 1992, upon which he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. At Paris Island, SC, he served as Platoon Commander, Logistics Officer, Series Commander for Golf and Hotel Company, Training Officer for Weapons Battalion, Marine Corps Rifle and Pistol Team and officer in charge of the Marksmanship Training Unit. Colonel Drake entered the Air National Guard in July 1998 as an Air Battle Manger in the 117th Air Control Squadron, Savannah, GA. In June 2000, he became the Range Training and Range Control Officer at the Savannah Combat Training Center. In December 2002, he transferred to the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center where he continued to serve as the Range Training and Range Control Officer. In March 2008, Colonel Drake became the officer in charge for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Program at Joint Force Headquarters, Jackson, MS. In July 2009, he transitioned to the Deputy G 5/7. As Deputy G 5/7 his responsibilities included the State Partnership Program with Bolivia and Uzbekistan, strategic planning for current and future Mississippi military strategies, developing joint integration plans, Joint Professional Military Education, Joint Exercise and Training Programs, and the development of action plans to implement approved joint strategies for the State of Mississippi. In November 2014, as dual assignments, Colonel Drake served as Commander to the 255th Air Control Squadron, Gulfport MS and Director of Airspace and Ranges managing the Camp Shelby Air to Ground Bombing range and C-17 Assault Strip, and the W154 airspace in the Gulf of Mexico.
Colonel Drake's combat experience includes deployments during Operation PROVIDE COMFORT and IRAQI FREEDOM serving with 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (ABN), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (ABN), 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).