We're making a little more progress finding out more about this week's training mission featuring Blackhawk helicopters over Minneapolis.
The U.S. Special Operations Command was in charge of the operation. Its mission changed after 9/11, its website says, to a "responsibility for synchronizing Department of Defense plans against global terrorist networks and, as directed, conducting global operations. USSOCOM receives, reviews, coordinates and prioritizes all DoD plans that support the global campaign against terror and then makes recommendations to the Joint Staff regarding force and resource allocations to meet global requirements."
Kenneth McGraw, a spokesman for USSOCOM, answers some of the questions.
Q: Who's involved in the helicopters? Are they all special ops or are local police physically in them too?
A: All the personnel on board the helicopters were US Special Operations Command service members.
Q: Is the training for USSOCO forces or for local authorities?
A: The training is being conducted in coordination with local authorities, but it is for USSOCOM service members not local authorities.
Q: What was the scenario being used last evening?
A: We do not have that information available for release.
Q: Your press release mentioned previous training before the helicopters were brought in; was this training also in downtown Minneapolis?
A: Training conducted before the training with helicopters was conducted in multiple locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Q: Why Minneapolis?
A: US Special Operations Command units conduct this type of training in cities all over the US. It is routine training for our units. Our units are always looking for new places to train that simulate the challenges they may face operating in urban areas.
Training in different areas using different types of buildings and structures give them the opportunity to constantly refine their tactics, techniques and procedures. Minneapolis/Saint Paul is an area in which we have not previously conducted training.
I should've made that question, Why not Saint Paul?
They've been in St. Paul both nights this week. Last night they were very, very close to my apartment.
Are you sure it was the same group? There's a helicopter maintenance facility at the downtown airport so they fly in and out of their quite often.
I can support Kassie on this one, I saw/heard them quite a bit over the past few days from the West Side, I got a decent look at one Monday and it was a blackhawk like the ones in the video. Most of the blackhawks I see in and out of Holman have more distinct markings. (and don't fly with the doors open)
I can't say whether they were the same group or not, but there were helicopters flying low over our neighborhood-- Selby/Dale-- last night. That's the first time I can remember hearing anything so close.
They were close and loud over near Summit Hill as well last night.
I live a half-block north of the bluff, and a block east of the High Bridge.
On Tuesday (28th 9;30pm) I heard multiple Blackhawks approaching and went out on my south-facing back porch as they passed by eastbound below the treeline, I saw glimpses of their lights through the trees.
Last night (29th 9:04pm) they flew westbound directly overhead. At first I thought an air-ambulance enroute to Children's Hospital, a common occurrence but there were multiple aircraft flying so low my windows rattled. I did not see them this time as they were beyond the trees when I went outside. The reason I know the time is I commented on Twitter on both occurrences.