Remember this photo of armed troops on a “training exercise” in the residential streets of suburban Crookston, MN?
It’s not just Crookston, MN. The U.S. military is also conducting “training exercises” in urban America as well.
Scott Hiaasen reports for The Miami Herald that in the early morning hours last Tuesday (May 8, 2012) in Coconut Grove, Miami, residents were jolted from their beds by the thunderous “whump whump” sound of military choppers that dropped rappelling soldiers onto the rooftop of an abandoned hotel.
Coconut Grove is a 9-miles drive from Miami.
From her third-floor balcony, Muir then watched the soldiers fire off flares and smoke bombs before searching floor by floor through the darkened Grand Bay Hotel, their paths marked by flashlights and the pop-pop-pop of gunshots. “The show of force was so overwhelming,” she said.
The maneuvers were part of a “realistic urban training” exercise for about 100 military personnel, and organized by the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Maj. Michael Burns, a U.S. Army spokesman. The exercise also included three military helicopters, and the use of simulated explosions and gunfire to mimic real-life military scenarios.
“They have to train in a realistic environment,” Burns said. “We didn’t use any real bullets,” he added reassuringly.
Miami police assisted in overseeing the exercises — but they were instructed to keep quiet about the exercises until late Monday, for security reasons. The police also blocked off roads around the Grand Bay during the exercise, Muir said.
“It was the federal government’s call on what was being done. We were courteously advised,” said Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes Coconut Grove.
Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss said that a news release about the training was sent out around 5 p.m. Monday, but it went largely unnoticed.
The explosions, however, did not. A handful of alarmed Grove residents called the police and City Hall to ask about the armed choppers flying over their homes.
Muir, for one, would not have minded a heads up beforehand. “I thought it was kind of rude, to tell you the truth,” she said. “One neighbor was swearing, he was so annoyed.”
A reader “MoveOut” of the Miami Herald news article commented that “They did something similar a few months ago in the Brickell/Roads area. Actually it was very frightening because we were woken up in the middle of the night by black (unidentifiable) helicopters going between the buildings at low altitude and very high speed.”
Hope and Change, baby!