An Exercise in Poor Judgment and Miscommunication

On Monday of this week, the Army had a training exercise in the city of Houston. They used an occupied, urban area, in the middle of the day. This was a full scale, military exercise, complete with helicopters, troops, and gunfire.

Civilians in the area were not given advance notice of this exercise.

As stated in the link below, it appeared there was “a massive SWAT scene happening.” Neighbors contacted family members to warn them not to come home because, “it sounds like we’re in a war zone. Guns, shooting, helicopters flying around the house…”

Army drill scares residents on Houston’s south side

Neighborhood schools were unaware of the exercise and were placed under lockdown.

God forbid, what if someone had a CHL in that situation? Or even if they didn’t? You’re allowed to defend your home in this country. What if some nutjob conspiracy theorist really thought our own troops are finally being deployed on American soil? I don’t have to tell you what would have happened. We all know that picture – the person would get one shot off, unnecessarily wound or kill a soldier, and the troops would open fire. Civilians would see what happened and freak out. Conspiracy theorists would think the worst.

All because this whole thing wasn’t communicated. We’re damn lucky something like that didn’t happen. It’s bad enough we had a neighborhood of traumatized civilians who didn’t know this was just a training exercise. They had to endure the sounds of wargames going on all around their homes while they hid in their closets and their bathtubs wondering what was going on. Was someone being hunted? Was a terrorist on the loose in the neighborhood? Could someone come bursting through their door at any moment? Were they safe?

I write about this today because I saw another article this morning:

Army to use old jail in Galveston for Training Exercises Today

The Army is going to do another training exercise in Galveston tonight. At least, this time, they’re giving some advance notice. I hope people in Galveston catch this news announcement.

You know, I understand the military’s need to do these urban warfare exercises. You can’t truly simulate a live urban environment on base if you don’t have civilians involved. However, I still think they could do these exercises on base and involve non-military individuals to play a part. I know, I have no military experience and I’m sure I’m missing the aspect of the whole “wargame” experience. But Monday’s situation was uncalled for. An apology just doesn’t undo the trauma these people experienced. The men and women enlisted are trained to handle these types of situations. Your average civilian isn’t prepared to handle warfare on the streets, nor does he or she  ever expect to be exposed to something of that nature.

“Urban warfare?” Ok, I need to hear from some of you out there who have a military background or know someone who does. What kind of training is that and why would the military need to do these training exercises in our neighborhoods?

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

The tragedy in Connecticut was devastating, and my heart goes out to those families. That being said, I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say regarding the topic of gun control. This is a sensitive issue right now, and a very important one.

Throughout the history of mankind, we’ve found a way to hunt, to harm, to wage war. Cane slew Abel because, in his eyes, his brother was “favored” (no motive is ever really given, it’s always assumed the motive was jealousy). But Cane did not have a firearm when he committed this act.

We are in the midst of another debate of gun control because of a terrible event that occurred – something that should never have happened. We cannot ever replace those lives. However, we cannot change the fact that the perpetrator would have found a method to harm these people if he did not have access to guns.

My friend, Stephen Pope, has a far more eloquent post on this topic. After reading it I got his permission to incorporate it into my own post over here:

Whenever we encounter a tragedy, it’s human nature to have that “knee jerk reaction” and want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, whatever the issue may be. But knee jerk reactions are never long-term solutions. If someone had listened to Cane, or maybe stopped and asked him how he was doing, maybe he would have had a chance to vent about his asshole brother Abel and that whole story would have had a different ending.

I State the Obvious

Things in the Middle East are getting out of hand.  Ok, not only do I state the obvious; I grossly understate the facts. As I hear the news and read the headlines, I have a mixture of emotions. I’m appalled that anyone would go to such radical extremes for any religion – especially a religion that claims to promote peace. At the same time, a part of me is darkly amused, because I know that this group of extremists does not represent the entire Muslim faith. While I do not claim to know much about their religion, I do recognize radical behavior. When insulted by the way a film portrays your religion, one does not want to go attacking embassies and promoting chaos in the streets. It only serves to decrease one’s credibility.

In case you aren’t up to speed on current events, let me give you a brief summary:

On the 11thanniversary of 9/11, Islamic demonstrators staged violent protests at U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya. The attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The last time an American ambassador died in a violent assault was 33 years ago, when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was kidnapped and assassinated in Afghanistan.

Demonstrators attack the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on 9/13. Protesters were throwing stones and there were reports of gunfire. People were injured before the government got troops on the scene.

That same day, about 200 demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Kuwait. This demonstration was peaceful, but the signs of “USA stop the bullshit” (in English) … well, that’s something we’ve always seen in the Middle East.

Western embassies in Tunisia and Sudan were attacked. In Tunisia, two people were killed after crowds breached the embassy.

While the U.S. embassy was the common target, protesters also hit the UK and German embassies. I could keep on listing, but why don’t you look at this article that shows a map of all the protests going on instead. Just scroll to the bottom:

Two U.S. Marines were killed early Saturday during a sustained attack on an Afghanistan base. Three or four more troops were wounded. While there were no organized demonstrations outside its gates, the timing is just impeccable…

I’ll be honest; I don’t know how this is going to play out. I know they need to calm-the-fuck-down, and I don’t see it happening any time soon. :/