Saturday, November 9, 2013

Urban Shield

During the last City Council meeting I had the displeasure to listen to a couple of veterans speak their minds in opposition to Urban Shield.  They belittled the exercise in Boston stating that, “two guys set off a bomb that only killed three people.”  They likened this exercise to the, “militarization of our first responders.”  I sat there respectfully and didn’t say anything, listening to their point of view.  To this day I regret it.

I wanted to ask the following questions.  When you were in the military did you do any training?  Why?  The Boston bombings (plural) were designed to kill or maim as many American Citizens as possible.  When acts of terror like 9-11 and the Boston bombing occur, it is so surprising and unthinkable that the average American stands flat footed, unable to understand or respond properly.  Unlike and IED in Afghanistan these bombs were detonated on American soil.  Therefore, first responders, local law enforcement and the FBI, not the military, are tasked with emergent needs, and the apprehension of the terrorists.  So knowing that the War on Terror is at our doorstep what is our responsibility?

The first task of local government is to keep our citizens safe from harm.  Arlington Police and Firefighters are tasked with that responsibility.  In an effort to react swiftly and efficiently to any situation, it is important to have some familiarity.  Therefore, training is essential.  Yes, training Mr. Veteran.  The same training that you had to keep Americans safe.  That is what Urban Shield is, a training exercise.  By your comments at the Council meeting, you would deprive our first responders of this valuable opportunity.  The ability to prepare for eventualities that could very well happen in our city, to our citizens, on any given day.  Yes Mr. Veteran, and if it affected your family you would be standing at that same podium or in front of a reporter stating how incapable and inept our first responders were.  How hypocritical, shame on you!

This afternoon I will witness the exercise that is happening in my District.  I will watch and learn.  I will consider it part of my education, my training, so that if such a catastrophe occurs in the future I will understand the reasoning and decision making required in keeping our citizens safe.  That is responsible government.       

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