By Brandon Hall
(Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com)
Military explosions are rocking Flint this week and next, and other emergency military drills are coming to Grand Rapids soon. Battle Creek recently had a strong military presence, and the military was involved in a Detroit plane crash drill this week.
The series of drills has caused some to ask, has Michigan covertly found itself in the midst of a "Jade Helm" like military training project?
Flint residents are furious that they were not told about the military exercise there, which continues through next week
WNEM in Flint reports:
"Explosions you'd expect in a war zone echoed through Flint. People's homes shook and those inside were caught off-guard. It all went down Tuesday at the shuttered Lowell Junior High on the city's east side.
The blasts are just an Army exercise.
"There's older people, it probably gave them a heart attack or something," Glenn said.
Flint's spokesman Jason Lorenz said the city has been in talks with the Army for six months now about using parts of the city. This is part of a joint exercise being carried out across the United States.
"It's an exercise to help their personnel do training with urban environments," Lorenz said.
That training includes using aircraft and simulated ammunition. It will continue for the next 10 days.
"I think they should have gave us a warning to let us know there was an Army thing going on, I really do," Humphrey said."
The drills are paid for by the Army and involve local Flint police officers. The immensely secretive campaign had to be "moved up" for some reason, hindering the ability to properly warn residents, according to Flint Police Chief James Tolbert...
"On Wednesday, military officials and Flint leaders held a media availability, but Lorenz later called TV5 and said the officials from the army didn't wanted their faces shown during our broadcast. The concern: terrorists may try to find them and harm them.
Flint Police also explained the reasoning behind the delay in notification on Tuesday.
"Yesterday was a unique situation," said Chief James Tolbert. "For whatever reason the timetable was moved up. And we put it out as soon as we could. We did put it out before there was any type of explosives."
Officials do say they will release more information following the exercises, but specifics will be kept secret so tactics aren't passed to our enemies."
In Grand Rapids, it was announced a few weeks ago that "Operation Northern Exposure" would bring over 1,000 military troops into Downtown Grand Rapids and Kentwood at the end of June:
"The Michigan National Guard will be conducting urban drills in the Grand Rapids area later this month....The drills, known as Operation Northern Exposure will take place June 23-27 and will be centered around a fictional dirty bomb explosion in the area, and will involve around 1000 soldiers.
The exercise is unlikely to cause much disruption during those days, however, the public may notice more military vehicles in the area, as well as helicopters bringing crews to and from the sites.
-The drills are designed to practice local community support.
-The scenario is based around a mock nuclear device being detonated in the area. There is nothing to indicate that GR would be a target for such a device.
-The event will take place June 23-27, centered around the Butterworth Yardways facility and the Crestwood Elementary School in Kentwood.
-Military vehicles will be very visible around the area on those days.
-There will also be helicopter traffic in the area as well"
Some have questioned why such drills wouldn't take place on the military base in Grayling.
Battle Creek also recently held "dirty bomb" oriented Military drills involving hundreds of soldiers over the course of a week and a half:
"A fake rental truck with a fake dirty bomb inside triggered a practice military response Friday in Battle Creek. Army National Guard members converged on a parking lot outside ABC Warehouse at 5700 Beckley Road for training and an evaluation of their response to a critical incident.
A similar exercise was held earlier this week at C.O. Brown Stadium and and more will be next week again at the stadium and at the former W.K. Kellogg Middle School. About 160 members of the 460th Chemical Company of the Army National Guard based at Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta participated Friday as well as civilian volunteers who played victims of the incident.
The parking lot was filled with military vehicles and decontamination tents as members of the unit dealt with people posing as victims and evaluated the threat posed by a chemical weapon.
The military units are trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents, according to the 460th's executive officer, First Lt. Travis Williams of Midland. The exercises this week and next are to determine whether the units are prepared to respond quickly to an incident."
A WMP reader spotted military vehicles in Detroit yesterday, and that seems to be related to a plane crash exercise in which the military is evidently one of many stakeholders,yet is involved nonetheless:
"The drill is done at the airport once every three years to keep crews on their toes about what happened.
Detroit Metro Airport Fire Chief Mike Evans said the event they practiced was a low-impact plane crash with about 100 victims. All participated in the FAA mandated simulated plane crash, including specially trained aircraft rescue, firefighting teams and emergency response organizations in the metro area.
"We reached out to all of our mutual aid partners," Evans said. "20 something departments responding to the airport right now.""
|Military vehicles converge on Colorado highways during Operation Raider Focus|
Many may be familiar with "Jade Helm," a multi-state military operation. The Daily Mail describes the situation this way:
"Seven Southwestern states will soon be infiltrated by 1,200 military special ops personnel as part of a controversial domestic military training in which some of the elite soldiers will operate undetected among civilians.
Operation Jade Helm begins in July and will last for eight weeks. Soldiers will operate in and around towns in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado where some of them will drop from planes while carrying weapons loaded with blanks in what military officials have dubbed Realistic Military Training. But with residents of the entire states of Texas and Utah dubbed 'hostile' for the purposes of the exercises, Jade Helm has some concerned the drills are too realistic."
Jade Helm and Michigan drills are not the only ones. Colorado also recently held historic drills with Operation Raider Focus:
"Something unusual - even for Colorado Springs - about to happen with Fort Carson: Nearly 650 vehicles will roll south from Colorado Springs next week in the biggest Army convoy seen in the Pikes Peak region in decades.
By some accounts, it's the largest road convoy in Colorado since World War II. It will take more than 4,000 soldiers and more than 300 Stryker armored vehicles and other rigs from Fort Carson's 1st Brigade Combat Team to its Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site east of Trinidad for combat training...
The long drive is the start of a long couple of weeks for the troops, who will fight a simulated war called Raider Focus. It's a graduation exercise of sorts for the unit, which has spent a year in intensive training at Fort Carson. The goal is to get the brigade ready for quick deployment if war breaks out."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at WestMiPolitics@Gmail.com
|Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson|