Clearing Away the Rubble...with Black Hawks, Tanks, and Loads of Ammo

"We have cleared away the rubble of crisis," President Obama reported in his State of the Union address, "and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger."  He cited troops coming home after a decade of "grinding war," six million jobs created "after years of grueling recession," American car purchases up, foreign oil purchases down, a healing housing market, a rebounding stock market, corporate profits that "have skyrocketed to all-time highs," Republicans and Democrats working together "to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion," "tens of thousands" of American jobs created by green energy, and a boom in natural gas production that's lowering our energy bills.

If things are so peachy, I have a question for the president.  What's with the Black Hawk helicopters and urban warfare drills?

The Army took over an empty high school in southeast Houston without warning last month in a Department of Defense drill.  Terrified residents mistook blank fire for live rounds.  At a City Council meeting the next day, Mayor Annise Parker decried "a shocking lack of sensitivity to community concerns" that caught even some in the police department by surprise.  About the same time council members were meeting in Houston, "federal law enforcement" agents were rappelling down ropes from military helicopters hovering over the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Days earlier in Miami, one local news station reported that blanks fired from Black Hawks soaring low over downtown were "pinging off the high rises[,]" and another reported troops "rappelling from the military choppers onto the Metrorail station platform."  The official explanation: "The training is designed to ensure that military personnel are able to operate in urban areas and to focus on preparations for overseas deployment.  It also serves as a mandatory training certification."  If true, why so many exercises now, when more troops are scheduled to come home than be deployed?  And why are so many of them, like one in Los Angeles last January, team exercises with local law enforcement?  A reader claiming to be a former Marine commented on the CBS Los Angeles news website that he was an infantryman for 20 years and never trained in any city or town with civilians present.  Others are skeptical as well.

John Wayne Tucker, blogging at, has posted links to local reports of similar exercises that have taken place in at least 14 cities, most of them over the last twelve months.  One in his hometown of St. Louis last summer involved tanks rolling through neighborhoods in what local news reported was a military "driver's ed of sorts."  Tucker calls for citizens to demand an explanation from their representatives. 

While we're at it, can we get an explanation that makes sense for the nearly 2 billion rounds of ammunition the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies have been purchasing?  The AP has reported that it's nothing more sinister than bulk buying to get a discount; however, Investor Business Daily's Andrew Malcolm wrote that experts have calculated that it's enough ammo to arm DHS "for a 24-year Iraq war," which, he remarked, "is especially strange given Obama's double-barreled emphasis in his inaugural address on the approaching end in Afghanistan 'of a decade of war.'"

After reading Malcolm's article on air last Friday, radio host Mark Levin dismissed internet chatter about the DHS preparing for domestic insurrection.  He thinks it more likely that the government's preparing for a catastrophe of their own making: "the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society, and the potential for widespread violence" in the streets that accompanies such crises. 

That would certainly explain the Black Hawks as well.  It's clear from his inaugural and SOTU addresses that Obama intends to double down on government spending, taxes, regulations, executive orders, collectivism, and unchecked immigration with no budget proposals or plan for reducing our national debt in sight.  He's determined to accelerate America forward Thelma and Louise-like into the canyon of fundamental transformation, and both local law enforcement and the military will need to be ready at the scene when it all comes crashing down.

A domestic crisis would also justify the billions of dollars in military surplus the DOD has been gifting to local governments through its Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO).  Chicago Channel 7's I-Team has been investigating "weapons of war" that are "ending up in Chicago and the suburbs."  Law enforcement is being so broadly defined that M-16 rifles and a humvee went to a Catholic university, and an "arsenal of combat rifles" went to Brookfield zoo.  What sense does it make to arm a zoo unless someone envisions a scenario where desperate, starving urbanites are forced to turn it into a hunting ground after grocery shelves run empty?

I've lived in this country my entire life and never heard of government agencies stockpiling millions of rounds of the hollow-point "training ammo" listed in its solicitations or shooting blanks from military aircraft over our neighborhoods and cities.  Not until now.  None of this makes sense if things are as peachy as the president claims, and I think these circumstances raise enough questions to warrant a congressional hearing.  Questions like these would not be remiss:

  • Is the government preparing for the possible collapse of our economy and society, and why is the Obama administration continuing policies even the General Accounting Office says are unsustainable if that's the case? 

  • What is the added value of blanks to these urban warfare exercises?  Are they being used to desensitize members of our military to firing on their fellow citizens if there's domestic turmoil?

  • Why are DHS and other federal agencies seeking so much of the more expensive and lethal hollow-point bullets, which are not typically used at the firing range and are outlawed by the Geneva Convention for battlefield use?    

  • Are bulk ammunition purchases and LESO's redistribution of military hardware to local governments connected to any domestic scenarios being played out?

  • If the purpose of these exercises includes preparing for operations overseas, then why were Black Hawks recently firing over Miami but not Benghazi?

It amazes me that residents of areas where these exercises are taking place aren't flooding their representatives with questions and complaints.  Then again, city dwellers tend to be more liberal, and I don't have the faith in this president and our policymakers in Washington that millions of people like Houston resident Glen DeWitt do.  "If it's to protect our kids, I'm for it," DeWitt told a reporter interviewing him about the DOD drill at the school.  "I think it's cool," a bystander in Worcester, Mass., said of helicopters "buzzing neighborhoods" and landing around the auditorium in Lincoln Square last August.  "At least the empty buildings in Worcester are getting some use," he told a reporter from the Telegram & Gazette

Not all residents are happy, however, nor are the many people posting comments on websites and under YouTube videos of these drills.  Alarmed Worcester resident Chad Julian left a message on the Telegram's Facebook page that ends with the question, "Don't you think it would help put the public's mind at ease to know that there was a reasonable explanation for all this hubbub especially since it was ONLY a training exercise?"

Many of us who can't yet see through the "rubble of crisis" the president claims to have cleared away would like a reasonable explanation for the hubbub as well.