This was certainly one hell of a hotel wake-up call.
Around 10 p.m. on April 4, U.S. Army Special Operations Command soldiers, assisted by personnel from the FBI’s Boston office, entered a downtown Boston hotel as part of a training exercise. Once inside, they raided a room and detained a man inside. As so often happens in training, though, a problem arose: It was the wrong room and the wrong guy.
“First and foremost, we’d like to extend our deepest apologies to the individual who was affected by the training exercise,” said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
According to the FBI, “based on inaccurate information, they were sent to the wrong room and detained an individual, not the intended role player.”
The FBI added that no one was injured during the mishap.
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The exercise was described by Burns as “essential military training,” and was designed to “to enhance soldiers’ skills to operate in realistic and unfamiliar environments.”
The Boston Police Department was called and responded to the training event gone awry, which happened at the Revere Hotel Boston Commons, shortly after midnight, where they confirmed the mixup.
According to CNN, the man who found himself roped into this training exercise was a Delta Air Lines employee.
The airline told CNN on Thursday that it was investigating the “alleged incident in Boston that may involve Delta people.”
Neither the FBI nor Army Special Operations Command commented on how long the incorrectly identified individual was detained, but CBS News Boston — citing an unnamed source — said that he was handcuffed, interrogated, and placed in the shower for more than 45 minutes before the mistake was realized.
“The safety of civilians in [the] vicinity of our training is always our number one concern,” said Burns. “We are reviewing this serious incident with our partners.”
Special operations training sometimes occurs in public spaces, outside the bounds of military bases.
As an Army Special Operations Command spokesperson told Task & Purpose in 2019, while discussing a 2019 training event that created plenty of noise and disruption in several Raleigh, N.C. neighborhoods, “these environments add realism and greater training value to the soldiers participating in the exercise. Safety surveys and risk assessments are thoroughly prepared before and during military exercises and training activities.”
However, when the public catches wind of these training operations, the reaction sometimes amounts to: what the hell is going on?
Last year, more than a few San Antonio, Texas residents were surprised by the sights and sounds of simulated gunfire and MH-60 Black Hawks and MH-6M Little Bird helicopters flying low over the city as part of an exercise at the Alamodome stadium. In February 2019, Los Angeles residents witnessed helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment flying amid downtown highrise buildings and even landing in the street. And, going all the way back to 2015, there was that public kerfluffle over Jade Helm 15.
If anyone has a genuine claim to being freaked out by these training exercises, though, it’s probably the person whose sleep was interrupted when a bunch of FBI agents and soldiers with Army Special Operations Command kicked their hotel door in. Then again, when it comes to realistic training, raiding a target and finding out you’re in the wrong place is about as realistic as it gets.
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