February 12, 2008

"Ready, Fire, Aim"

"Act, then think" Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner stopped a planned urban combat training exercise by Company A 1st Battalion 24th Marine Regiment last week, and has been under considerable fire from the public since his decision. He still defends the decision today:

"I spoke with Major Brooks of the United States Marine," Finkbeiner said in a news release Monday. ""I conveyed my sincere regret for the failure to communicate within the administration and any inconvenience that caused the U.S. Marines Corps. Finkbeiner had offered to allow the Marines to use abandoned buildings on the outskirts of Toledo.

The mayor said he made the decision not to allow the Marines, Company A 1st Battalion 24th Marine Regiment from Grand Rapids, to perform their training maneuvers downtown beginning Friday in downtown Toledo because the presence of armed soldiers in the central business district would have alarmed residents.

"The CBD (Central Business District), particularly on a weekday afternoon, was not available for military staging operations. (Ten thousand to 14,000) men and women would have been departing their offices in downtown Toledo on Friday afternoon with a major military training unfolding, including the use of weapons being discharged with blanks," said Feinkbeiner said.

The mayor's office has been flooded with calls from people from across the nation, asking him to apologize, according to the Toledo Blade.

Among those voicing frustration with the Mayor are members of the Toledo Chamber Commerce, one who wrote in an email that, "all of the community suffers unnecessarily because of the unfortunate action of the Mayor."

The Toledo City Council, in conjunction with county officials, are attempting to make amends with a resolution that will be introduced later this morning that will provide an abandoned mall as a training location for the Marines.

In addition, the resolution will offer to pay the Marines for the lost training costs, and offers to pick up a free night's stay for each of the 200 Marines anywhere in the city, and will provide passes to area restaurants and events. They will also apologize on behalf of Toledo to the Marine Corps.

Finkbeiner, described as an "arrogant bully," but one person close to the story, will face a City Council resolution expected to pass 12-0.

02/13 Update: The resolution passes.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 12, 2008 10:00 AM

I'd like to mention that while I was in the Marines, we did urban training in cities all the time. LA, Guam, Honolulu. We were plain-clothed, but we had rifles, pistols, radios, the whole 9. We stayed inside for 3 days, sometimes in abandoned buildings, and ran surveillance for whatever mission we were on. No one knew we were there. I guarantee that in some city you've lived in, there's been military training. As long as you coordinate with local law enforcement, people won't freak out. They'll just think it's odd, assuming they notice at all.

That being said, someone going to town on a 240G (with blanks) would alarm the populace. I think that public announcements would solve any potential problems. Maybe even bring out a few demonstrators.

Posted by: paully at February 12, 2008 05:52 PM

Huh. 1/24. That's our sister Bn. When I was in 2/24 we did a big urban FX with some Dutch Marines in Omaha. The city let us use a few old abandoned office buildings, in the slummy part of town. It was great training in a trash filled wreck of a building with simnition. Way better than those cookie cutter combat-towns.

Posted by: brando at February 12, 2008 06:14 PM

The thing about the mayor's excuse is, it sounds reasonable. Until you remember that this was planned weeks (months?) in advance, and that the mayor had plenty of advance notice. Lots of time to contact the businesses with offices downtown (or wherever the training was supposed to take place) and say, "Hey, on such-and-such a date the Marines are going to be doing a training exercise downtown. Don't be alarmed if you see them, there's no terrorist threat to the city, it's just an exercise." Businesses could have put up notices in employee break rooms, etc.

The fact that he only now comes up with this excuse means either: a) he never thought of giving such a notice and is therefore incompetent, or b) he's lying about his excuse. Note that that's not an exclusive-or: he could well be both lying and incompetent. But at least one of the above must be true.

Posted by: Robin Munn at February 12, 2008 10:48 PM

Here is the video. You decide who if the Mayor is telling the truth.

Posted by: capitano at February 13, 2008 10:35 AM

Only in Toledo.

Posted by: Willa-b at February 13, 2008 11:07 AM

Finkbeiner's story keeps getting larger every time he talks. It was bad enough Finkbeiner used all 14,000 CBD workers going home as the excuse for those affected when the actual area of operations for the exercise from staging at Promenade Park to a building near Madison and Erie, three short blocks away. (Googlemap those criteria and check where it is in the city.) But now he's bringing up school children transferring buses.

I'm sure the permit is publicly available and would layout what was to happen. A talk with A Company would help in defining what exactly would be going on and when. These Marine exercises have been done before, and I doubt they, in conjunction with Toledo's own Police Department would arrange something that would measurably affect either rush hour or school busing activities. As it was, the original Fox Toledo story noted the Marines hadn't done anything by 3 PM and were still packing up around 5 PM.

I wonder if anything was going to happen at all on Friday, much less before rush hour ended. My guess is a Friday afternoon/early evening setup camp, an all day Saturday exercise and a Sunday pack and go home. Based on reading about Iraq patroling, maybe they'd do a late evening exercise ending by 11PM or something, but it'd probably be done without firing their weapons.

Posted by: Dusty at February 14, 2008 07:46 AM