Lockheed Martin

Chicago Hosts Urban Warfare Training Exercise

Tonight I was reading a Chicago Tribune website article about security planning for the upcoming 2012 NATO Summit in the “Windy City” when I spotted the following in the last paragraph of the piece. Jeff Coen and David Heinzmann wrote tonight:

As attention on security intensifies, the city announced Monday that a “routine military training exercise” would be under way in and around Chicago from April 16 to 19 to help personnel preparing for overseas deployment learn to “operate in urban environments.” A city spokeswoman said the training is done around the country and is not related to the NATO meeting.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) released the following statement about the scheduled urban warfare training exercise today:

The City of Chicago is providing support for a routine military training exercise in and around the Chicagoland area on April 16 -19. This routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming overseas deployments.

The training sites have been carefully selected to minimize the impact on the daily routine of residents.

The training is not open to the public.

If that wording about “this routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming overseas deployments” sounds familiar to some readers, that’s because it’s already been used by municipal officials in Boston (July 2011) and Los Angeles (January 2012) before urban warfare training was conducted in their cities. I understand other U.S. cities have hosted similar drills.

Now, I’ve heard the U.S. military has been busy developing its urban warfare training program for some time already. Spencer Ackerman wrote in the Wired.com blog Danger Room back on January 18, 2011:

American soldiers spent seven years patrolling the urban neighborhoods of Iraq; its troops battled insurgents there block-by-block and house-by-house. Now that the Army is getting out of Iraq, it wants to make sure its urban combat skills don’t wither away. So it today it gave Lockheed Martin a contract worth up to $287 million to build Urban Operations Training Systems — essentially, giant simulation facilities and modules to help soldiers get ready for life in the big, bad city.

Versions of those training systems can be as simple as shipping containers tricked out to resemble multi-story houses and arranged in village formations, so soldiers can practice how to seize a building without causing needless damage. The Army’s got an entire 1000-acre facility in Indiana it uses to train soldiers in urban combat.

As for the Marines? From the CBS Channel 2 (Los Angeles) website on January 25, 2011:

A 1,560-building mock city has risen in the Southern California desert.

The $170 million Marine Corps urban training center at the Twentynine Palms military base, some 130 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is roughly the size of San Diego.

The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center facility uses mock cities and role players to prepare Marines and sailors for urban terrain missions.

If our armed forces already have such resources, what’s with the urban warfare training in American cities then?

A cursory surf of the Internet reveals that some wonder if the drills aren’t training for a future declaration of martial law in case some SHTF event takes place, like a U.S. financial crash.

Disturbing.

I wonder if the exercise isn’t related to counter-terrorism.

Responding to an “American Mumbai” or dirty-bomb attack, perhaps?

In which case, I’m all for it.

The next couple of days should be interesting around here.

Sources:

Coen, Jeff and Heinzmann, David. “Chicago preparing for NATO summit.” Chicago Tribune. 16 Apr. 2012.
(http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-nato-training-exercises-in-chicago-underway-20120416,0,1795383.story). 16 Apr. 2012.

OEMC News Affairs. “Statement from the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications Regarding Training in Chicago April 16 – 19.” OEMC. 16 Apr. 2012. (http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/oem/provdrs/emerg_mang/news/2012/apr/statement_from_thecityofchicagoofficeofemergencymanagementandcom.html) 16 Apr. 2012.

Ackerman, Spencer. “Lockheed Gets Big Bucks to Prep Soldiers for Urban War.” Danger Room. 18 Jan. 2011. (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/lockheed-gets-big-bucks-to-prep-soldiers-in-urban-war/). 16 Apr. 2012.

“$170M Mock City Built For Marine Training In Twentynine Palms” CBS Channel 2 (Los Angeles). 25 Jan. 2011. (http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/01/25/170m-mock-city-built-for-marine-training-in-twentynine-palms/). 16 Apr. 2012.

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