Marines and sailors will invade Jasper County, South Carolina, this week, The Island Packet reported on Sunday.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will train in the town of Ridgeland, the county seat, in preparation for “deployment to Mediterranean and African shores,” 2nd Lt. Gerard R. Farao told the newspaper.
The training will be coordinated with local, county and state agencies and officials, including the Ridgeland police and fire departments, a Marine Corps news release states.
Residents are warned “training could take place at any time” this week in the town and they will “likely see and hear military vehicles and possibly see aircraft” along with soldiers in uniform carrying weapons.
“Some exercises will take place at night. Residents might hear ‘popping’ sounds as Marines fire blanks. The blanks do not pose a hazard for residents, Farao said,” the Beaufort Gazette reports. “Although there is no danger, Farao said residents should stay away if they see training under way or uniformed personnel.”
The Pentagon insists these exercises are necessary for urban combat situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the months ahead, Africa, where it insists al-Qaeda is active.
However, the exercises have a more immediate and important function – to acclimate civilians at home to the presence of combat soldiers working in concert with militarized police with the blessing of local officials (and often with funding provided by the federal government).