Daily Archives: February 3, 2013

Black helicopters? Army says don’t worry

Military explains Special Ops units doing ‘urban training’

WND | Jan 30, 2013

by Bob Unruh

BlackHelicopters-340x184Been seeing black helicopters overhead? Uniformed troops with guns drawn? Armored vehicles cruising through your residential neighborhood?

Worry not; it’s just the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command doing “realistic urban training” for military maneuvers on site in cities across the United States because that’s what they need to be able to do, according to the military.

One of the reports in just the past few days came from Miami.

There, the Herald reported military helicopters were “buzzing” neighborhoods.

It was similar to April 2011, the report said, when military helicopters “buzzed through Brickell, leading to sleepless nights for some people and a lot of griping on social media about it.”

And KTRK in Houston reported the sound of gunfire and the helicopters overhead “created a lot of concern Monday afternoon in one Houston neighborhood.”

According to the station’s report, “With military helicopters flying above her southeast Houston neighborhood, Frances Jerrals didn’t know what to think.

“‘When you see this, you think the worst. When you hear this, you think the worst,’ Jerrals said.”

The report said the Army “took over the old Carnegie Vanguard High School.”

“There were armed men in fatigues, plenty of weapons and what many though were real live rounds.”

The events have a history of causing alarm.

During a recent drill in Miami, a photographer “captured video of a military helicopter firing its machine guns as it flew over an area freeway.”

“The chopper was firing blanks, but an artist visiting the city didn’t know.”

Josh Epperson said, according to the report, “‘I heard the machine gun fire and then I hit the deck … I didn’t know what to expect, and it was one of the loudest things I’d ever heard.”

Army spokesman Michael Noggle told WND the military considers the drills routine.

He said it’s the responsibility of local authorities who give the military permission to stage practice assaults to notify their residents.

“These are standard training exercises known [as] realistic urban training conducted by units from United States Special Operations Command,” he said.

Noggle said the “purpose of the realistic urban training is to give our Special Operators an opportunity to hone their skills in a controlled, but unfamiliar, realistic urban environment that cannot be replicated with the bare-boned facades found on military installation ranges.”

The Special Operations teams, he said, want to train away from their home bases because they know the layout there, maybe too well to make training effective.

“Though we have excellent training areas on military installations, it is impossible to replicate what a real urban environment offers,” Noggle explained. “It is important for our military members to train in a variety of different locations and unfamiliar environments to prepare for combat overseas. This city provides a great opportunity to capitalize on the unfamiliarity of a large, urban environment and has worked well so far, thanks in large part to the cooperation of the mayor’s office and local law enforcement.”

He said people really shouldn’t be alarmed, because the military works with local authorities, who are supposed to notify their residents.

“There is a very detailed DOD realistic urban training approval process that USSOCOM complies before conducting any training outside of a military installation,” Noggle told WND. “Foremost is notifying (and gaining permission from) the local law enforcement as well as local government officials. It is left to the discretion of the local law enforcement and government officials to notify the general public of military training.”

But when that fails, and people are alarmed, he said, it’s not the military’s fault.

“I think it is important to note that these training exercises are in coordination with local law enforcement officials,” he said. “We work very hard to inform and protect the local population, our interface is through the local authorities. We were invited by the cities to conduct joint training exercises to enhance the effectiveness of both services in order to better protect the residents.

“The Army sincerely appreciates the cooperation that we receive from the local residents and businesses in the vicinity of theses training exercises; we regret that this caused concern and angst amongst some residents.”

WBBM radio in Chicago reported a local “drill” also was being planned in a public school, this time by the local Gary Grove police department.

Cary Grove High School principal Jay Sargeant said the event would include “shooting blanks from a gun.”

The purpose was to condition teachers and students to the sound of gunfire, the report said.

The logic escaped some parents, the station said.

“If you need to run a drill, you run a drill,” parent Sharon Miller told WBBM. “They run fire drills all the time, but they don’t run up and down the hallway with a flamethrower.”

But Infowars.com noted an alarming development.

“A decade ago, ‘black helicopters’ were fantasy according to the official account, and a favorite among conspiracy theorists. Today, it’s just an everyday occurrence, while the plans to ‘resettle’ the American people, or at least its dissidents, in concentration camps is officially on the books.”

The commentary linked to another site that has posted a 2010 report from the Army called “Internment and Resettlement Operations.”

“The public is being conditioned to give up its own defenses, in the way of 2nd Amendment infringements, all while being repeatedly trained to accept a constant police-military presence in its major cities,” the commentary said.

WND previously reported military “exercises” in Minneapolis. Records clerk Melissa Hill said, “To me it’s really frightening. Military copters flying around in our airspace in an urban setting – it kind of conditions people to accept a police state.”

U.S. Military, Miami Police Staged An Urban Training Exercise With Diving Blackhawks & Machine Gun Fire

Military “exercises” in populated urban environments are now so routine, so commonplace, they are no longer reported by the national media and are left as “human interest” stories for local news stations.

marketdailynews.com | Jan 28, 2013

blackhawk-helicopter-military-exercise1Gun control advocates say deadly assault weapons have no business being on the streets of America.

But, apparently, those same people who would restrict you of your ability to defend yourself have no objections to fully loaded military gunships flying over American population centers.

That’s exactly what happened in Miami, Florida recently when the U.S. military, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, staged an “urban training exercise,” justifying the action as as preparation of our troops for deployment overseas.

If we’re supposedly pulling our military out of Afghanistan and Iraq, which urban environment is it that the military and local police are training for?

Full Story

Military drills in major cities alarm citizens, raise fears of government action

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examiner.com | Jan 28, 2013

By Joe Newby

Military drills taking place in and over two major metropolitan areas are causing many Americans to wonder if indeed, the government is preparing for civil unrest or martial law. Over the last week, The Blaze reported Monday, military helicopters were seen buzzing the city of Miami in a joint exercise. Houston ABC affiliate KTRK said Monday that the Army is conducting a multi-agency drill in the area of Scott and Airport.

Authorities in Miami, however, said there’s nothing to be concerned about.

“This is routine training conducted by military personnel designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirement,” local police told the Miami Herald.

Nevertheless, the sight of soldiers rappelling onto rooftops and the sound of gunfire have many concerned.

At one point, a photographer in Miami captured video of a military helicopter firing its machine guns as it flew over an area freeway. The chopper was firing blanks, but an artist visiting the city apparently didn’t know that.

“I heard the machine gun fire and then I hit the deck…I didn’t know what to expect, and it was one of the loudest things I’d ever heard,” Josh Epperson said.

CBS Miami said that a similar exercise took place in April 2011, and The Blaze reported that Black Hawk helicopters buzzed buildings in Minneapolis last summer.

But many are wondering why, and fearing the worst.

“This is in anticipation of eventual inner-city anarchy. However, if civil war breaks out the military arm of the DHS will step in,” one person wrote at KTRK.

“A multi-agency drilling training….for what and against whom?” asked another.

Related:

Army drill scares residents on Houston’s south side

See Video

abclocal.go.com | Jan 29, 2013

by Jessica Willey

HOUSTON (KTRK) — The sight of Army helicopters and the sound of gunfire created a lot of concern Monday afternoon in one Houston neighborhood.

We received a lot of phones calls, Tweets and Facebook posts from worried neighbors, wondering what was going on.

SkyEye 13 HD was over the south side where at first look, it appeared there was a massive SWAT scene happening.

With military helicopters flying above her southeast Houston neighborhood, Frances Jerrals didn’t know what to think.

“When you see this, you think the worst. When you hear this, you think the worst,” Jerrals said.

And so, she passed along her concern.

“She told me ‘don’t come home it sounds like we’re in a war zone. Guns, shooting, helicopters flying around the house,'” Isaac Robertson Jr. said.

The U.S. Army along with other agencies took over the old Carnegie Vanguard High School near Scott and Airport. There were armed men in fatigues, plenty of weapons and what many thought were real live rounds

“I felt like I was in a warzone.” Jerrals said. “It was nonstop. I was terrified.”

Turns out, it was a multi-agency training drill that Jerrals wished would have come with warning.

“They could have done a better job in notifying the neighborhood,” Jerrals said.

The Army did not give any details of what the training is for.

U.S. Army’s special forces set for urban warefare training in Galveston, Texas

The parking garage at the Galveston County courthouse is already blocked off, in preparation for military training exercises Wednesday, which could include helicopters landing on the roof.

chron.com | Jan 30, 2013

By Carol Christian

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The parking garage at the Galveston County courthouse is already blocked off, in preparation for military training exercises Wednesday, which could include helicopters landing on the roof.
Photo: Google Maps

The garage occupies four floors of a seven-story building at 715 19th St., which also houses an empty jail.

The training will involve about 80 soldiers from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in coordination with local law enforcement, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Noggle, an Army spokesman based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

No civilians will be involved, he said.

“We were invited by the city of Galveston to conduct joint training exercises to enhance the effectiveness of both services in order to better protect the residents of Galveston,” Noggle said by email.

“The purpose of the realistic urban training is to give our Special Operators an opportunity to hone their skills in a controlled, but unfamiliar, realistic urban environment that cannot be replicated with the bare-boned facades found on military installation ranges,” he wrote.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said he thought the exercise could involve landing helicopters on top of the seven-story garage and jail facility.

An old antenna, which would have impeded landing on the building’s roof, was removed last week, Henry said.

“It was scheduled for demolition anyway,” the judge said. “We just accelerated the time frame on that. It’s out of their way so they can land there if they want to.”

Although the former county jail is empty, it’s well maintained in case it might be needed for inmate overflow, Henry said.

Noggle declined to specify what the training includes, but he stated that helicopters would be used if weather permits.

Any firing of weapons will involve “simulated ammunition,” Noggle said.

If the training is anything like the maneuvers that happened Monday in southeast Houston near the former Carnegie Vanguard High School and last week in Miami, it will catch the public’s attention.

On Tuesday, the Houston Police Department issued a statement that included an apology for its lack of prior warning about the exercises.

“In terms of the training, HPD is assisting the U.S. Army and Department of Homeland Security at various locations in the city through Friday of this week in which some training involves discharging of weapons and helicopter patrols,” the HPD statement said.

In Miami, the Miami-Dade Police Department issued two statements, one on Jan. 21 to announce the “joint military training exercise in and around the greater city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.”

The Miami training included the use of military helicopters, the statement said.

A second statement issued Jan. 25 thanked residents for their cooperation. “This was routine training conducted by military personnel designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments and meet mandatory training certification requirements,” the statement said.

German Activists Punch Out Big Brother’s Eyes

wired.com | Jan 31, 2013

By Kim Zetter

It’s being called Grand Theft Auto for the surveillance generation, only instead of being played out in the digital world, it’s played out in the real world. And the object of the game isn’t to steal cars or pull off other underworld pranks but to take out Big Brother’s eyes by destroying CCTV surveillance cameras spread across the city.

That’s the new game being played in Berlin and other German cities under the rules of Camover [note: the website keeps changing addresses so link may not work], an activist sport for those who hate surveillance cameras, according to The Guardian.

Teams of players are charged with taking out as many cameras as possible — by ripping them out of mounts, cutting cables or covering the lenses with black paint using Super Soaker squirt guns — and videotaping the vandalism in the process.

Angry Populace Burning British Surveillance Cameras

Points are awarded for the number of cameras destroyed — with bonus points granted for the most inventive methods.

“We thought it would motivate inactive people out there if we made a video-invitation to this reality-game,” the creator of Camover told the Guardian. “Although we call it a game, we are quite serious about it: our aim is to destroy as many cameras as possible and to have an influence on video surveillance in our cities.”

The competition was launched as a protest against the European Police Congress being held in Berlin on February 19. There’s no real prize for the game. The winner gets front place in a protest that will take place three days before the congress begins.

The organizers of Camover explained their motivations on their web site:

“The gaze of the cameras does not fall equally on all users of the street but on those who are stereotypical predefined as potentially deviant, or through appearance and demeanour, are singled out by operators as unrespectable,” they write. “In this way youth, particularly those already socially and economically marginal, may be subject to even greater levels of authoritative intervention and official stigmatisation, and rather than contributing to social justice through the reduction of victimisation, CCTV will merely become a tool of injustice through the amplification of differential and discriminatory policing.”