Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA ‘urban warfare’ exercises

This video about urban warfare exercises in the USA is called Helicopters Buzzing Downtown Minneapolis.

By Matt Rigel in the USA:

Military helicopters descend on Twin Cities, Minnesota in unannounced “urban warfare” exercises

23 August 2014

On the evening of Monday, August 18, the US Army commenced unannounced military exercises in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. MH-60 variant Black Hawk helicopters buzzed through the downtown and residential areas of the two Midwestern cities.

The ominous exercises, which took place over three days, were led by the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security in close collaboration with the local police. They were carried out without public warning, despite the fact that they included late-night low flyovers of residential districts by thunderous war equipment.

Hundreds of stunned residents placed emergency phone calls in the hours after exercises began as several black helicopters weaved in between skyscrapers of both cities and swept through areas at low altitudes and high speeds. It was only after the widespread response that the police and military acknowledged what was taking place.

“We understand the concern and confusion these activities may have created for the public,” said St. Paul Police Department spokesman Howie Padilla as he defended the exercises.

St. Paul Police Federation Dave Titus responded to these safety concerns by proclaiming, “Controlled practices like these ultimately save lives and make a safer environment for everyone.” The helicopters that flew over the two Minnesota cities are designated for stealth operations ranging from support and reconnaissance to attack missions in various settings. They are generally armed with machine guns and can fly at speeds of up to 300 km/h.

The helicopters were piloted by teams from the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, whose combat nickname is the “Night Stalkers.” The regiment, based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, has participated in a wide range of imperialist interventions, ranging from Mogadishu, Somalia to the war in Iraq.

Major Allen Hill, speaking for the regiment, claimed that the exercises were for “training” purposes. He attempted to downplay the significance of the exercises, noting that they take place “ten to 15 times a year throughout the country.” Hill said cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul “[provide] our pilots an unfamiliar environment—an area [the soldiers] are not accustomed to. Towns like Minneapolis, St. Paul, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, they’re all great hosts. The cities invite us.”

Tonya Tennessen, spokesperson for St. Paul’s Democratic Party Mayor Chris Coleman, confirmed that Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges (also a Democrat) did invite the military to perform combat training over residential neighborhoods and refrained from notifying the public about the exercises.

“In a post-9/11 world, this is how homeland security happens,” Tennessen said. “These exercises are taking place in cities all over the country.”

Indeed, similar incidents have been reported in the previous two years around the US as part of “urban operations training” exercises. Minneapolis and St. Paul hosted similar military helicopter exercises in 2012, though on that occasion police notified the public of the exercises three days before they began.

The increasing regularity of urban warfare training involving military forces in the United States should be seen as a sharp warning to the working class. They are part of a number of steps directed at preparing for the use of these forces in operations within the country—directed at social and political opposition.

In April 2013, police placed the city of Boston, Massachusetts under de facto martial law after the city’s marathon race was bombed by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

This month, the population of Ferguson, Missouri has also been placed under effective police rule. Peaceful protesters who sought to express their frustration with the police murder of an unarmed youth were met with tear gas and rubber bullets from police officers armed with combat equipment. Journalists reporting on the events in Ferguson faced similar treatment.

Police forces throughout the country are not only equipped with military gear, they have direct relationships with the military—as the Minneapolis warfare exercises make clear.

These preparations line up with the military plans put forward in the recently-released US Army Strategic Studies Group paper titled “Megacities and the United States Army: Preparing for a complex and uncertain future.”

The document makes the case for urban warfare against domestic opposition: “Failing to prepare for military operations in dangerous megacities could leave a future president without the means to do something that he or she considers to be in the national interest,” it reads. Among the cities cited in exercises for urban combat is New York City.

The training exercises in Minneapolis and St. Paul are not isolated events—they are part and parcel of preparations by the American ruling class for imperialist war abroad and for an intensified attack on the democratic rights of the population domestically.

US Army document on urban warfare advances strategy for “contemporary Stalingrads”: here.

The US military conducted a series of urban warfare exercises in the city of Los Angeles this week. With little in the way of advanced warning, thousands of frightened Los Angeles residents awoke to the sound of low-flying helicopters, gunfire and explosions: here.

Six days of military exercises concluded in Los Angeles on Saturday with action in the latter half of the week centered on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The US military’s latest urban training drill began last Monday with residents given virtually no advanced warning of low-flying helicopters and loud explosions: here.

A recent funding request submitted to Congress by the Army has revealed an ongoing classified military operation in the greater Washington, D.C. area. The document, originally reported by Bloomberg News, requested $1.55 million for aircraft maintenance and a “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility” at Davison Army Airfield at Fort Belvoir, Virginia 20 miles southwest of the nation’s capital. The information emerged as part of a broader $2.5 billion request to redistribute funds to high-priority programs during the 2019 fiscal year: here.

28 thoughts on “Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA ‘urban warfare’ exercises

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  11. Wednesday, 1 July 2015

    State terror at home and abroad!

    THE UK capitalist state has always used terrorist attacks, such as the latest attack in Tunisia, to strengthen its continuing preparation of special armed groups at home, as well as for rushing in legislation that allows the state to trample all over the basic rights of its citizens.

    On Monday, an armed exercise, codenamed Strong Tower, involving 1,000 police officers at locations across London began, and will continue till today. The Metropolitan Police says this exercise in London is not based on any specific intelligence and is part of a long-term strategy of planning and preparing for all possible types of terror attack.

    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said: ‘The exercise is at the extreme end of what might happen. We’re doing this so that if the very worst happens we are prepared to do our very best. It’s only through carrying out thorough exercises and challenging out assumptions can we be confident in dealing with different scenarios.’

    He added: ‘We have not put together an exercise of this magnitude before – officers will not have come across anything like this before. It is about making sure we have the capability and skills for anything that terrorists could throw at us.’ Deputy Assistant Commissioner Maxine de Brunner, the exercise’s director, said the aim was to test and challenge police and other agencies in an ambitious multi-site marauding terrorist attack. She added: ‘Emergency services are under a legal duty to test their preparedness for all manner of crises from terrorism attacks to flooding.’

    The agencies involved in the operation include the police, London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service, Transport For London, the NHS and a string of government departments who will face tests of their decision-making and crisis-management skills. The government’s Cobra emergency committee will take part in the exercise, which was devised in January.

    At the same time it has emerged that Scotland Yard has created an SAS-style unit of armed officers.

    The 130 counter-terrorism specialist firearms officers (CTSFOs) who make up the elite unit have been equipped with new weapons and retrained in new tactics, such as fast-roping from helicopters and storming burning buildings to rescue hostages, a process that takes at least a number of months.

    The unit has trained alongside the army’s special forces to respond to assaults such as the 2008 attacks in Mumbai and the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, which developed into a siege. This assembly and training of state armed gangs, supported by the emergency services, who cannot refuse such collaboration, has been accompanied by legal changes that allow mass spying by the state on all of its citizens, give the state the right to prevent citizens either leaving or returning to this country, bring in ‘relocation’ of suspects and also secret trials which can be held without the public having any knowledge that they are taking place.

    Objectors are told that this police state is necessary and for the good of its citizens and that therefore their patriotic duty is to grin and bear this situation. However the fundamental reason for the surge of terrorism is nothing to do with the conduct of UK citizens at home.

    The current terrorism has its roots in western state terror. This saw state terrorists Bush and Blair invade and destroy Iraq, smashing the infrastructure of the country, creating a vacuum that first Al Qaeda and then IS have filled. Their successors did the same for Libya and then attempted to do the same in Syria. They created the terror groups and also millions of refugees.

    The best way to fight terrorism is to stop invading Arab countries and to stop supporting Gulf feudalists. This the British government will not do. As well, the government is about to impose new anti- union laws that will abolish the right to strike, a move that will greatly sharpen the class struggle in the UK. We will then see all of the agencies that have been developed to fight ‘foreign terrorists’ being used against the working class at home.

    British imperialism has always acted in this way. The only solution to the world crisis it has helped create is to overthrow the British ruling class at home with a socialist revolution and make peace with the Arab peoples and the other oppressed nations abroad.


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