Military Training on Civilians.... : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

More Delta Force training. Funny, that just like the Council on Foreign Relations, until a few years ago they didn't exist. Really. That's what you're supposed to believe. These are mainstream paper articles on these training exercises.

Invasion, South Texas

Army exercises make black helicopters the talk of town

By Dave Harmon American-Statesman Staff

Published: April 17, 1999

The black helicopters, and the specially trained U.S. Army troops they dropped across South Texas for 10 days in February, are gone now.

In their wake, they left a trail of tales that will be told, retold and embellished for years -- the soldiers rappelling into cities, the explosions, the accidental fire, the satchel full of cash to pay for damage. And they ignited a new round of buzz among those who consider the helicopters symbols of government oppression or a coming one-world order.

The Army Special Operations Command's training exercises -- dubbed Operation Last Dance -- were the latest in a 10-year effort to give the United States' elite troops real-world experience in different urban environments. And in town after town, local leaders remain divided over whether they would invite the soldiers back for an encore.

In Alice, Police Chief Jack Compton said he would be honored to see the units return.

"I thought it was a damn well-run operation," Compton said of the Feb. 12 exercise at a former poultry plant. "For some of the folks living in the area it was a big event. They sat on their porches (to watch) and had a grand old time."

In Kingsville, Tomas Sanchez, head of Kleburg County's emergency management office, said that he and other county officials weren't notified of the Feb. 8 operation -- city officials were -- and that he would try to stop any future exercises.

"When you see a bunch of helicopters coming and a bunch of men rappelling with no markings on their uniforms, and bang-bang, boom-boom, you get a little concerned," he said.

As much as a year before, Army representatives had quietly approached officials in a number of Texas cities, seeking permission to stage training missions in abandoned buildings. There would be helicopters and explosions and small-arms fire, they said, but the grenades would be weaker versions of the real thing, the bullets would be plastic, and buildings would be prepared beforehand to protect people and property.

At Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the Special Operations Command, the exercises are an essential part of training the Army's elite forces, which number 27,000 active and reserve members, said spokesman Walter Sokalski. Since the late 1980s, Sokalski said, they have used populated areas to stage missions that serve as a final exam for the soldiers.

The initial homework takes place at bases around the country, where soldiers practice in buildings erected to simulate an urban environment, Sokalski said.

"Then we move to a real-world environment where you have things like telephone lines and different lighting, to see if they've learned the skills they need to learn," he said.

The Texas exercises involved 65 soldiers and support personnel, said Maj. Jeff Fanto, spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command at Fort MacDill, Fla., headquarters for the nation's elite military units.

He said he knows of no civilian injuries or deaths during an urban special operations exercise.

Jamming 911 lines

On Feb. 8 in Kingsville, a city of 27,000 near Corpus Christi, eight helicopters hovered over several downtown buildings in the evening as local police cordoned off a three-block area. Dark-clad soldiers with night-vision goggles slid down ropes, then muffled booms and shots erupted inside the old Exxon building and the former police headquarters. The blasts blew out windows at the Exxon building, despite the plywood tacked up to contain damage.

The mayor recessed a city meeting so local officials could watch. But it looked all too real to those nearby residents who hadn't been notified of the exercise -- including many who lived in the Casa Ricardo retirement home across the street. Callers lit up the 911 lines.

Then a mishap. According to Kingsville Fire Marshal Lupe Garcia, soldiers cutting through a door in the old jail with a blowtorch started a fire that spread beyond their control. "It gutted the room pretty well," Garcia said.

The fire department put out the blaze in less than 20 minutes.

Sanchez, the county emergency management chief, said Kingsville police weren't alerted soon enough to notify all of the surrounding businesses and residents. And although city leaders approved of the exercise, he said county officials were kept in the dark.

"It caused a little bit of bitterness and friction," he said. "It's not what they did, it's how they did it."

The Army wasn't asked to pay for the damage to the old police building because it was going to be torn down anyway, said Police Chief Felipe Garza. But he and other officials said the Army promptly paid the police and fire departments for their time.

"They paid cash money," said Garcia, the fire marshal. "They had a satchel ready to go."

Fanto, the U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman, said he isn't sure whether the Army reimburses local officials for police and fire services. "I really don't know anything about that," he said.

Garza said more than 50 citizens called 911, most of them "inquiring just what the hell the noise was." In the following days, Garza said he got more calls, this time from talk-radio shows around the country wanting him to go on the air live to talk about the operation. Internet sites sizzled with stories of U.S. soldiers invading a small Texas town.

"Man, I've been on more radio talk shows," Garza said. He said he tried to knock down the conspiracy talk, but he's not sure it did any good.

"The alarmists will continue to sound the alarm, the Chicken Littles will still see the sky fall, and the anti-military and anti-government types will still be against the government," he said.

Mixed welcome

From Kingsville, the soldiersmoved on to the Corpus Christi area, where they staged several days' worth of exercises, and to Alice and finally San Antonio.

After watching Blackhawk helicopters dart over a former water treatment plant, a refinery area and Harbor Island, across the water from his city, Corpus Christi Mayor Loyd Neal said he was proud that the area could help soldiers hone their skills for dangerous missions.

Some residents expressed concern about the maneuvers, but Neal said the Army sent the commanding officer and an Army operations specialist to speak at a City Council meeting to give residents more information after the operation began.

"I'm just glad that Corpus Christi, with its rich military tradition, was selected for one of these sites," said Neal, a retired Army colonel. "As I told them, we'd be glad to have them come back."

Port Aransas Mayor Glenn Martin was less enthusiastic.

"That was somewhat disturbing, since we didn't know they were coming," Martin said of the Army's maneuvers on nearby Harbor Island. "But we had no problems, no damage. In this area, we're used to military exercises."

In Alice, a city of 20,000, an exercise in an abandoned poultry processing plant at the edge of town generated only three phone calls, said Compton, the police chief. But when the helicopters reached San Antonio Feb. 18, an old controversy was waiting for them.

The Army finished its operation at Fort Sam Houston, a military base just northeast of downtown. Mayor Howard Peak said the Army chose the base because he and the police chief had rebuffed a request to stage maneuvers in the city.

In early 1998, Peak said, Army officials approached him about training in San Antonio, but he refused to give his consent because the Army would not divulge the details of the operation. At that point, he said, "they tried to go around us and offer money to people for their support, which was very unfortunate."

Peak said Army officials offered to make donations to a City Council member's favorite charity in order to win his support. The council member, Mario Salas, told San Antonio reporters he rejected the offer.

Fanto said there was no such offer. "We do not do business by bribery or those types of things," Fanto said.

In the end, Peak said, the operation at Fort Sam Houston went smoothly. San Antonio has a strong relationship with the military, he said, but he will never consent to operations within the city.

And what about Austin? City Manager Jesus Garza said he has never heard of a request from the Army to conduct such drills here. He said such a decision would be made by the City Council, with input from the city's police and fire chiefs and emergency management office.

Even SUPER peaceful people object to this!!


By REBECCA BURGESS ROGERS Special to The State Published on 11/10/99 ---------- Hundreds of U.S. Marines are in town this week to train in simulated war conditions in an urban setting. According to the Oakland Tribune, when training was conducted there this spring, residents were willing to deal with the slight inconvenience. But when the exercises moved into their back yards, things changed. Despite promises to the contrary, helicopters flew low and weapons-fire noise was at an unacceptable level.

"The helicopters in the neighborhoods were not part of the plan," said Col. Mark Thiffault. "They were not supposed to be flying at 200 feet. Our air planner put the exercise into play without checking with us. As a result, we and the neighbors had a big surprise." What surprises should we expect in Columbia?

What a tremendous public relations event to promote violent response to conflict! How can anyone morally or ethically justify this "need" to train our military -- in our cities or anywhere else? When our nation is the largest purveyor of violence on this planet, it should not be surprising that our young people are so violent.

The mayors of Oakland, Alameda and Monterey "earned" $4.5 million. Is the military paying our mayor? And what is that money used for? Instead of spending taxpayers' money for this high-tech, window-dressing exercise aimed at convincing us there is a foreign enemy about to invade, it could be better spent on the many victims of the current "urban war" -- students whose schools are in crisis, people who have no homes, people who have been downsized out of work.

Being a socially aware and peaceful citizen means you have to work a lot harder to find non-violent ways to live. It takes more time and energy to look deeper into issues and ask the hard questions than it does to just accept decisions made by those in power.....

Ms. Rogers, a certified mediator and conflict management trainer, chairs the board of the Columbia-based Carolina Peace Resource Center.

-- Dreen (, April 15, 2001


Wish they would train us poor civilians in that stuff... I can't believe - aw heck... YES I CAN!!! But they way they did things makes one wonder what the real purpose of those exercises is...

Citizens being 'desensitized' to invasion? Intelligence on the general public? Hmmmm.... I can't see it being in the interest of those folks to have the military come in and perform a show of this sort - not even for training (which IS, afterall, their most plausible and frequently used excuse!)

-- Sue Diederich (, April 16, 2001.

Yeah, their most plausible excuse...Except for the fact that they have urban scenarios on almost every base. it's a crock o hooey. They just want to see how people will react and whether anyone will go Rambo on them and think it's like that old movie "Red Dawn". In Kingsville there was a report that said that the copters were completely unmarked. If I saw that, I would think it was something very far off from training and they'd get the "Red Dawn" scenario. Not a good thing to think about, huh?

-- Doreen (, April 16, 2001.


This isn't new when my wife lived in Florida they did practice take overs including home invasion in Tampa.

Scared the living daylights out of the populace but big bro said "we need the practice".

If they broke into my home I'm afraid that at least one or two would be carried out on a stretcher.

-- Kenneth in N.C. (, April 17, 2001.

Same type of scenario was played out at the airport in Charlotte, NC a few years back. 'Arline hostage crisis' of some sort iirc. And no lie-I occasionally see black, unmarked (and VERY,VERY,VERY quiet) helicopters around. Oh, well, guess the guys in the white suburbans will be after me now too.

-- StevenB (, April 18, 2001.

There is a subworld beneath ours, a world not within range of our visibility, eluding the press, the world media, and our nation's citizen's eyes and ears. We, as a nation, expect peace, we expect everything to continue at a regular pace. Desensitized from military incursion? Or have we already been desensitized? Desensitized from reality, the reality of the world around us, that in an double-sided oceanic illusion, this "subworld" has no touch on our borders. These "special forces" personell, night after night, secretly and seclusively keep this "subworld" at bay. The civilian population will never be sure as to what these specialized men and women do, where they go, or what they have done. For some, a realization of the actions of these units would crush the populational majority's mentality on the world status, and so we exist in a safe kept "sphere" of sorts, a ring of trust, but in who do we trust this ring? These questions to ask yourself are vital. Why do we feel we can question anything and everything that appears translucent to our eye's discerning view of criticism? Is it because by some ordainment of God, the Americans only can liberate their views on what is right and wrong? Do we entrust our government? Do we entrust our families? Do we entrust these men who flaunt black ski masks and kick down doors? And so we must ask ourselves, in an intellegent and tediously processed manner these questions. So, why do you feel you can question the ways in which any number of rights have been bequeathed to you? Its because Im an American? I mean, right?

-- JGHunt (, September 22, 2002.

Black copters are not going to wisk you away. White suburbans are not going to pick your family up. And the black protective gear these men wear is completely necesary for the style and operational capabilities they maintain. Unmarked choppers are key, they allow minimal US involvment to be cited by a foreign nation who, quite unfortunately (made up scenario here), downs or captures our helocopter. But why keep US involvment in a "covert" operation secret you ask? Simple, if they dont know who did it, they cant blame anyone and we yet again prevent an all out war, when an all out war is not necessary when all you need to do is knock off a few real bad guys out in some of these 3rd (and sometimes even civilized) countries. To sum it all up theres a lot of real bad shit out there you dont want to be exposed to you. These guys keep it out of your hair. Dont knock the US Military, they're people just like you, doin' their job and lovin' what they do.

-- Justin (, November 20, 2002.

One more point, you gals have watched too many hollywood productions, Red Dawn? C'mon, that isnt reality. Hell, the military cares more about your freedom than YOU do, why else would they commit their lives to a service of their country? And reacting to conflict with violence? Well I only have one justification to that, and that observation is that a justification of war doesnt exist. But, it is the lesser evil, than letting some situations drag on and become full blown disasters, crimes against humanity, and so on. Peace is not the opposite of war, creation is the opposite of war, peace is the outcome to an evil ending(war) to an even greater evil outcome that would've blossomed had we not committed ourselves to combat.

-- JGHunt (, November 21, 2002.

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