When the federal government considers a U.S. city or state hostile, even for training, some find that troubling.
A Special Forces unit based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina is conducting joint exercises with a local police force in and around Columbia, South Carolina this week.
The exercises, which involve the 3rd Special Forces Group and the Richland County Sheriff Department’s SWAT team, will be taking place during late-night and pre-dawn hours and will run until May 15.
Columbia CBS affiliate WLTX reported to area residents:
Military and sheriff’s department vehicles will be traveling in the Lower Richland County community near Eastover and Hopkins, in Elgin near Screaming Eagle Road, and North Richland County in the Monticello Road area. The sheriff’s department says people in those areas may also hear ordinance being set off or shots being fired. They say those will be simulations or blanks and do not pose a risk to the community.
County Sheriff Leon Lott told CBS that his deputies “will provide simulated scenarios for the military.” According to Lott, the county offers an ideal training location that cannot be replicated on Fort Bragg.
Richland County encompasses Columbia and is the second most populous county in South Carolina with over 400,000 residents.
Announcement of this joint military/civilian exercise comes as many Americans are already skittish about the military conducting training among the civilian population, most notably with Operation Jade Helm 15.
As reported by Western Journalism, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is launching Jade Helm 15 this summer, which is a series of military exercises across the southwestern states that will include special forces from all four branches. Some Americans speculate that Jade Helm is training the military to suppress rebelling citizens in a coming civil war, whereas the Army refers to it as ‘Realistic Military Training.’
Texas, Utah, and a small portion of California are listed as hostile territory on the training map, which raised concerns particularly in the Lone Star State.
In response to public feelings ranging from a simple desire for more information to discontent, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, took the matter up directly with the Defense Department. “I have no reason to doubt” the assurances of the Pentagon about the exercises, he said; “but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty; because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”
“When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it,” added Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, “the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.”