A couple weeks ago, the Blaze alerted you to the fact that the Army Reserves was conducting a training with armored vehicles on the residential streets and highways in St. Louis, Mo. Local news stations reported the story to residents saying they shouldn't be alarmed should they see this training taking place.
Army specialists from Fort Meade were brought to train the 354th MP company in St. Louis on what one of the local reporters called "driver's ed" for the military. Some, like Brandon Smith from Alt-Market in a guest post to the online publication Zero Hedge, wondered why this training was being conducted in public at all, especially given the fact that the military has some training facilities that model towns just without residents around.
So, why is the army conducting these trainings in public? Glenn Beck on GBTV -- soon to be The Blaze TV -- posed this question Monday.
"With an exception of parades, have you ever seen military humvees driving through your streets? Let me ask again. Have you ever seen them perform military exercises in the streets? Nope," Beck said.
In the segment, Beck notes that The Blaze TV staff contacted former army Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin to see just how routine this sort of training was. Lt. Gen. Boykin said it was bizarre and that, generally, trainings conducted in cities kept a low profile and didn't interrupt daily activities.
Watch the clip:
Brandon Webb, editor-in-chief of SOFREP (the Special Operations Forces Report) and former Navy SEAL, echoed this sentiment saying in an email to TheBlaze.com that military trainings "should not interfere with normal routines of citizens and businesses."
"When it does then that's where you have to draw the line," Webb said. This is not to say that the activities of those in St. Louis were disrupted.
Still, Webb noted that conducting trainings such as this in public makes sense in some instances and serves the purpose of making "the scenarios as real as possible." He, like Beck, calls to mind some of the training operations observed in other U.S. cities. Webb points to the SEAL Team 6 and Delta missions; Beck noted the Blackhawk helicopters flying in Chicago earlier this year.
What scenarios could the military be trying to make as real as possible? Beck had some ideas in his segment. Either a massive change in military training has taken place or the government is preparing for "something big," such as a civil breakdown.
Beck notes Boykin saying what is worrying about these public trainings is the conditioning they have on the public to a military presence. Smith on Zero Hedge too shared this concern and also pointed to an article in the Gateway Pundit that included video of residents saying the they thought having a military presence overall would be a good idea as it would help cut down on crime. At the time, Capt. William Geddes with the U.S. Army Reserves told KPLR that it is against federal law for the military to do police patrols.
Webb also said he thinks trainings such as these are conducted in public, rather than simulated facilities, because there are sometimes a lack of training facilities.
"While the BRAC (base re-alignment and closure) program was needed, it was not thoroughly thought out with regards to future growth under the Clinton administration," Webb said. "An example is that San Diego lost Naval Training Center (NTC) and it was a massive and useful space for Military and Law Enforcement in the region. The land was donated to the city of San Diego who sold most of it for $1 to a local developer (Corky McMillan I believe). When you lose training areas and capacity you have spill over. It's one reason that private training facilities have thrived in the midwest and east coast where land is cheap and easy to develop (as opposed to CA)."
Maj. Angel Wallace, a spokeswoman for the Army Reserve, explained that the press released issued to inform residents the training was taking place could be the reason it raised some eyebrows in the first place.
"It appears to have created more questions than the comfort it was originally trying to achieve," Wallace said in a phone interview with the Blaze, noting that she had received some calls from concerned locals. "This is not a very exciting story. It is standard operation for us."
Maj. Wallace went on to say that trainings, including those that involve transport of goods via military convoys from one location to another, are relatively common and coordinated with local law enforcement to ensure the activities of the general public are not impacted. Still, she said that perhaps it seemed "unique" in St. Louis because it was a larger city.