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Army invades L.A.’s space: Black helicopters, loud booms, simulated gunfire are all part of the drill

Army invades L.A.’s space: Black helicopters, loud booms, simulated gunfire are all part of the drill
A helicopter lifts off the ground as Army training drills continue Wednesday night in the Long Beach area. (OnScene.TV)

Don’t worry, those low-flying dark helicopters buzzing around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week belong to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The Army is conducting military training around the cities through Saturday to “enhance soldier skills by operating in various urban environments and settings,” according to a statement released through the LAPD earlier this week.

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Downtown Los Angeles residents were spooked Monday night when helicopters swooped in around them.

A parking lot across the street from the L.A. Live Regal Cinemas movie theater was the center of some dramatic aerial maneuvers Tuesday night.

NBC captured footage of helicopters landing in the parking lot of an urgent care center and loading personnel before taking off over the 110 Freeway while police blocked nearby traffic.

Some military training exercises moved away from the populated city centers and toward the San Pedro Bay port complex Tuesday night and into early Wednesday morning.

Port operations at Long Beach were not affected, port spokesman Lee Peterson said.

The Army rented space in an industrial area around the Port of Los Angeles near Terminal Island for training operations Wednesday night, according to Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the L.A. port.

Sanfield said people living in boats in the marina area in Wilmington were informed they might hear chopper noise, loud bangs and simulated gunfire.

“The local terrain and training facilities in Los Angeles provide the Army with unique locations and simulates urban environments the service members may encounter when deployed overseas,” the LAPD said in its news release.

“There is no replacement for realistic training. Each location selected enables special operations teams and flight crews to maintain maximum readiness and proficiency, validate equipment and exercise standard safety procedures. The training is essential to ensure service members are fully trained and prepared to defend our nation overseas.”

The U.S. Army Special Operations Command trains in multiple urban areas around the country, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for the command group.

“It wouldn’t be unheard of to train in Boston or Miami,” he said. “It takes a lot of planning and coordination to do this safely.”

The noises are part of a U.S. Army training exercise that is set to run through Saturday in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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