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February 26, 2002
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Fort Polk Officials to Lead Secret Urban Military Training in Shreveport

Associated Press

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - An urban military training program will begin in March here, with soldiers expected to perform surveillance and other maneuvers.

Officials from Fort Polk will lead the operation, which will be coordinated with the Shreveport Police Department. Officials released few details about the operation Monday, but Capt. Erik Brown with U.S. Army Special Forces said citizens will not be inconvenienced.

"We're in close coordination with public officials and law enforcement. (The operation) does not interfere with the citizens of Shreveport in any way whatsoever," Brown said.

The mission will put soldiers in random, undisclosed locations throughout the city, including downtown and in some neighborhoods.

"Most (residents) won't even know we were here," Brown said.

Those who might be affected will be informed about what to expect, he said.

The announcement of the operation came two days after two soldiers were shot by a North Carolina sheriff's deputy while participating in an exercise that has been conducted for decades in civilian areas outside of Fort Bragg, N.C.

One soldier died after a deputy stopped their pickup because he thought they were acting suspiciously and opened fire when the soldiers advanced on him. The soldiers were wearing civilian clothes and had a disassembled weapon in a duffel bag.

Soldiers in the Shreveport operation will be wearing plain clothes but will not be armed with live ammunition, Brown said. For a two-hour segment of one drill, soldiers will be armed with paint rounds and be accompanied by members of the police department.

"We are going to use this training for our benefit as well," Police Chief Jim Roberts said. "It's going to be equally beneficial to both sides of the fence. It's really a treat for us to have folks come in to conduct this type of training."

Mayor Keith Hightower said he approved the plan but hasn't been told where all maneuvers will occur.

"We felt like it was our duty," he said.






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