Low-flying helicopters, loud explosions, and simulated gunfire apparently gave some San Diego residents quite the shock as the Army conducted a training exercise across town on Thursday evening.

Army personnel were conducting “coordinated, essential training” in “designated locations” across the military town as part of an exercise scheduled to run from Jan. 24 through Feb. 4, according to a training advisory posted by Naval Base Coronado on Wednesday.

That training, officially carried out by U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), saw rotary-wing aircraft flit across the skies above several San Diego communities over the course of the evening. 

“The training consists of air and ground mobility operations and close-quarter combat training to enhance soldiers’ skills by operating in a realistic environment,” according to the Army. “Safety precautions are in place to protect participants, along with planning considerations to minimize impact to the community.”

While the Army said that the “training was coordinated with appropriate officials,” local media outlets reported that some San Diegans were taken by surprise by the loud noises of simulated combat and sudden sounds of UH-60 Black Hawk and MH-6 Little Bird helicopters patrolling the skies above.

“The house was literally vibrating with it … it was scary!” one Point Loma resident told local ABC News affiliate KGTV. “I immediately thought there’s something really serious going on in the neighborhood.”

“It might have been nice…if there had been something obvious and clear to say that we weren’t being attacked by a foreign power,” another resident told the KGTV.

This isn’t the first time “air and ground mobility operations and close-quarter combat training” have ended up scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting citizens. This past August, a similarly described exercise carried out by USASOC caught several residents of San Antonio, Texas unawares

While USASOC told the San Antonio Express-news that law enforcement and residents had been notified of the exercises months in advance, local leaders still complained that they hadn’t received appropriate notice.

As Task & Purpose has reported in the past, similar exercises have befuddled residents. An April 2019 exercise in Raleigh, North Carolina, near an abandoned motel ended up being “louder and more disruptive to the nearby neighborhoods than the city anticipated,” scaring residents who hadn’t previously been notified of the event.

The previous month, USASOC had conducted a series of military drills in the skies above the Dallas-Fort Worth area to address over the span of two weeks that prompted curious readers to write in to the Dallas Morning News asking what the heck, precisely, was going on in their neighborhood.

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The month before that, a pair of MH-6 Little Birds with the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment freaked out a bunch of Los Angelenos by conducting training that involved flying super low through the streets of downtown Los Angeles (the Los Angeles Police Department claimed residents had been notified ahead of time).

There are two lessons from Thursday’s mini-freakout in San Diego. First, follow your major military bases on social media so you’re always in the know about local exercises, especially if you live in a military town. And second: if you see a Blackhawk or Little Bird soaring above your head, keep calm, carry on, and don’t forget to yell ‘Merica!’ back like this guy:

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