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You are being desensitized to their presence

Military training in the middle of Miami jolts residents out of bed

By Scott Hiaasen

No, there was no smell of napalm in the morning.

But there was the thunderous whump whump of low-flying helicopters, and even the jarring blast of explosions at the abandoned Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove early Tuesday during a military training exercise that jolted many unsuspecting residents from their beds.

“It was quite a shocking experience,” said Jane Muir, who was awakened around 1:45 a.m. by the sound of military choppers that later dropped rappelling soldiers onto the Grand Bay’s rooftop. “It was kind of that bizarre feeling that you were surrounded by wind.”

From her third-floor balcony, Muir then watched the soldiers fire off flares and smoke bombs before searching floor by floor through the darkened hotel, their paths marked by flashlights and the pop-pop-pop of gunshots. “The show of force was so overwhelming,” she said.

The maneuvers were part of a “realistic urban training” exercise for about 100 military personnel, and organized by the U.S. Special Operations Command, said Maj. Michael Burns, a U.S. Army spokesman. The exercise also included three military helicopters, and the use of simulated explosions and gunfire to mimic real-life military scenarios.

“They have to train in a realistic environment,” Burns said. “We didn’t use any real bullets,” he added reassuringly.

Miami police assisted in overseeing the exercises — but they were instructed to keep quiet about the exercises until late Monday, for security reasons. The police also blocked off roads around the Grand Bay during the exercise, Muir said.

“It was the federal government’s call on what was being done. We were courteously advised,” said Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes Coconut Grove.

Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss said that a news release about the training was sent out around 5 p.m. Monday, but it went largely unnoticed.

The explosions, however, did not. A handful of alarmed Grove residents called the police and City Hall to ask about the armed choppers flying over their homes.

Muir, for one, would not have minded a heads up beforehand.

“I thought it was kind of rude, to tell you the truth,” she said. “One neighbor was swearing, he was so annoyed.”

But despite the neighborhood anxiety, the exercise went off safely and quickly, Burns said.

“It seems very high drama, but to us it’s kind of simple,” he said.

Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.

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EMERGENCY ALERT: 30,000 – 100,000 Russian Troops Scheduled within next 12 Months – May 2, 2012

EMERGENCY ALERT: 30,000 – 100,000 Russian Troops Scheduled within next 12 Months – May 2, 2012

Russia vetoes motion after preparing Special Forces for Syria

Russia vetoes motion after preparing Special Forces for Syria
DEBKAfile

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The West and Russia had a major showdown Saturday Feb. 5 over the Arab League resolution calling on Bashar Assad to step down and allow the formation of a national unity government. US President Barack Obama demanded a UN stand against the Syrian president’s “relentless brutality” and a vote before the end of the day. It was put to the vote and defeated by Russian and China vetoes.

Moscow sources charged that the motion had been intended to pave the way for war in Iran and a bid to overthrow the Tehran regime.
debkafile’s military sources report that the Russians backed their hard line against the West by putting Rapid Reaction Force (aka Spetsnaz) units in Black Sea bases on the ready to set out for Syria and defend Damascus. A Cold War dimension has been injected into the Syrian crisis, which is fast descending into a sectarian war between Syria’s ruling Alawites (Shiites) and the majority Sunnis. The regional dimension is provided by pitting Iran and Syria against Turkey and the Gulf Arabs.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s earlier announcement that he would visit Damascus next Tuesday, Feb 7, with Russian Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov was meant to buy Bashar Assad another three days’ grace to polish off the opposition before a possible UN-ordered ceasefire.
However, the US and Western powers refused to wait for further Syrian excesses to take place after various sources reported earlier Saturday that Syrian troops had shelled the Homs district of Khaldiyeh, killing an estimated 350 people there and injuring some 1,500, in the worst military bombardment of nearly 11-month-old uprising,.

Syrian government officials denied the charge accusing “gunmen” of killing civilians.

debkafile’s intelligence sources note that Moscow’s gesture to send the Russian foreign intelligence chief to Damascus alongside the foreign minister is supported additionally by the presence in the Syrian port of Tartus of Russia’s only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov with two destroyers and a marine force.

Aside from a few Turkish brigades strung out along the Syrian border, the West maintains no troops on in the vicinity of Syria since the American military withdrew from Iraq last December.

The United States presented a tough front at the UN Security Council Saturday, with President Obama insisting that the council vote on a Arab League text without further delay or changes to accommodate Moscow and that its president step down over his “unspeakable assault” on Homs.
The hard lines taken by Washington and Moscow over the Syrian crisis produced a harsh showdown over the “Arab Spring” per se, which Russian has been building up to since NATO helped Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Qaddafi.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who runs for his third term as president in a month’s time, and President Dmitry Medvedev appear to have determined, even at the price of military intervention, not to let NATO and Arab states repeat the Libyan exercise in Damascus. The gauntlet they threw down was picked up by President Obama Saturday. If the Russians continue to obstruct the US, European and Arab role in backing the Arab revolt and the Muslim Brotherhood, The United States, the Europeans and the Gulf Arabs are likely to redouble their efforts to unseat Bashar Assad.

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