Rangers Practicing Airfield Seizure Tactics In Pendleton

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running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

The Eastern Oregon Regional Airport will come under assault Monday by an elite military team supported by an array of specialized aircraft.
Don’t be alarmed. They’re on our side. And it’s only a drill.
The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, a U.S. Army unit stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, returns Monday through Thursday to Pendleton, where it staged a similar exercise 10 years ago, said Ranger spokeswoman Tracy A. Bailey of Fort Benning, Ga. Expect plenty of noise, particularly aircraft noise, during the two nights the 800-member contingent is practicing its airfield seizure tactics, Bailey said. The Rangers use noisy simulated munitions and pyrotechnics as well.
She said the Army knows the exercise makes a racket and it appreciates the city’s indulgence those two nights.
“It’s your American Rangers training in your backyard,” Bailey said Wednesday.
She said most activity will take place Monday and Wednesday night. Troops will parachute into the area while aircraft circle the skies above. The exercise may be noisy but there won’t be much to see, according to Bailey and Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts.
For one, everything takes place at night. Two, the Rangers are skilled at concealment.
“It’s covert. It’s training like real life,” Roberts said.
The public is advised to stay away, he said. Traffic on Airport Road will be restricted to only authorized visitors during the exercise hours. Local police and military patrols will be on hand to intercept the curious hoping for a glimpse of the Ranger exercise, he said.
“They are hyper-sensitive about safety and security,” Roberts said.
The Rangers make use of the airport terminal, normally an empty place after the last of two regularly scheduled daily flights by SeaPort airline departs at 7:30 p.m. for Portland, said airport manager Larry Dalrymple. He said the airport opens again to the public in time for the 6:30 a.m. flight. He said airspace above the area will be restricted. An FAA spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
Dalrymple said he had a first-hand look at the last Ranger exercise at the airport in 2002.
“I observed. It was very impressive, and that’s all I’m allowed to say,” he said.
Second Battalion has served in Iraq and Afghanistan carrying out raids, patrols and ambushes. In Afghanistan, it targeted key leaders in the Taliban and Haqqani network, a Taliban ally. Its work is largely unheralded but effective, Bailey said.
“These men are quiet professionals, what they do never makes the news,” she said.
The armada of aircraft that supports them is another matter. Bailey described an inventory that would stagger any aviation buff:
•MC-130 Combat Talon: a specialized version of the sturdy C-130 used for inserting and removing special operations troops
•AC-130 Spectre: another C-130 version, this one a powerful gunship
•AH-6 Little Bird: a light reconnaissance and attack helicopter
•CV-22 Osprey: the latest in aviation technology, a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies as a fixed-wing aircraft
•C-17 Globemaster: the workhorse airlifter for the U.S. Air Force; flies globally, inserts troops, supplies, weapons locally
Along with the Rangers come units of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from Fort Campbell, Ky., and Air Force Special Operations Command from Hurlburt Field, Fla. Some may act as “opposition forces” in the exercise, Bailey said. She said most of the men and women taking part in the exercise will be in and out of the airport and not seen around town.
Small groups of troops taking part may be in town, dressed as civilians, driving nondescript vehicles and scouting the area as part of the exercise, said Roberts and Bailey.
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