MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A military training exercise has some in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul looking to the skies and asking questions.
It’s a scene that looks straight out of an action movie. This week, a handful of low-flying black helicopters are buzzing just over rooftops and in between buildings.
They’re called Night Stalkers, or more formally, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment out of Fort Campbell Kentucky.
But what they’re training for here in Minnesota is as stealth as their choppers appear.
The Department of Defense is in charge of the operation while Minneapolis and St. Paul police are playing a supportive role. But none of the departments will comment on the mysterious mission, only apologizing for “any alarm or inconvenience the training may cause,” according to statement by Minneapolis police.
According the Night Stalkers website, secrecy is the name of their game. Their motto, to “guard my unit’s mission with secrecy, for my only true ally is the night and the element of surprise.” And the group boasts it’s “highly trained and ready to accomplish the very toughest missions in all environments, anywhere in the world, day or night, with unparalleled precision.”
For a small gathering in Minneapolis Tuesday night, the exercise was an unwelcomed sight.
“I think the scale of domestic military exercises is not a good idea,” said Daniel Feidt, a Minneapolis resident. “It’s a waste of taxpayer money. It’s inappropriate for Special Forces to be operating in American cities.”
But Minneapolis police said the training has been months in the making and that it will continue through Thursday evening.
Minneapolis police say exact times and locations cannot be released because of security concerns. They don’t want to attract attention and crowds of people which could create a public safety issue.
Minneapolis police say this is a routine training that is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country.
A former Navy SEAL told WCCO-TV the military prefers to put pilots in surroundings they’re not familiar with which, forces them to adapt quickly as if it were the real thing, on a mission in a place they’ve never been.
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