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February 22, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Send in the Marines

On Feb. 8, the United States Marine Corps was denied the opportunity to gain crucial training for future missions, because of miscommunication and, arguably, choosing a practice location that was less than ideal for those in charge of the city.

Earlier that day, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner discovered the Marines had arranged to perform practice exercises in a city-owned, nearly vacant building complex in downtown Toledo that weekend.

According to an article in the Blade, mock ammunitions and the firing of blank bullets would have been some of the activities included in the training. Since this may have been alarming to those in the area, it was argued that the exercises were inappropriate.

Finkbeiner felt that because he personally was not given earlier notice of the planned activities, the training would “frighten” the few people who would be in the vicinity of the building in the time frame allotted to the Marines. Minutes before they were set to arrive in Toledo, the mayor uninvited the Marines from training.

It is unfortunate that those who have sacrificed themselves in order to support and defend their country are not able to adequately train for the activities that could potentially be used inside and outside of the United States.

I would feel safer knowing that in a true time of crisis, those who are supposed to protect our nation are prepared for the urban warfare that this weekend’s exercises would have presented. I am not attempting to argue that the mayor’s actions elicit ill will towards the Marines and United States servicemen in general, but rather that some inconvenience may be required of ourselves in order to protect our well-being.

Which scenario would seem more frightening: Marines preparing and training with fake bullets and gunfights in a quiet area in order to gain skill in case of an emergency, or having Marines who did not go through such training be placed in a real-life, dangerous situation where such skills are required? A prepared “false alarm” is better than an unprepared dangerous situation.

In addition, it should be noted that although the mayor was unaware of the weekend exercises, the rest of the city was not in the dark. The Marines had alerted Toledo police and media outlets of the planned activities, according to the Blade. It was not the first time the Marines had conducted similar exercises in the city either, as similar training sessions occurred as recently as 2006.

This was not a first for the city, and since the location proved ideal for the Marines, they felt that it was a good opportunity to return. Also, last weekend proved to be a frigid, cold and snowy period, and therefore it was unlikely that many people would be walking around the often vacant downtown area, so any pandemonium and confusion would have been on an even smaller scale than usual.

Beyond the supposed concern the Mayor’s administration had over the level of fear the exercises would place in any people who may have been in the area at that time, there are questions that I raised when I heard this story.

Mayor Finkbeiner’s spokesman, Brian Schwartz, stated that alternative locations were offered to the Marines, including an abandoned indoor shopping mall and school building outside of the downtown areas. Both locations are in larger residential and higher traffic business areas compared to the downtown property.

If the mayor’s concerns were that people in the downtown area would be frightened by the “surprise” training, why would the citizens around these proposed locations be any less concerned about hearing gunfire? If anything, the situation would be worse, because police plans and knowledge about the events would have been thrown in a loop, and media releases would be incorrect.

Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if citizen concern was the true motivation behind the cancellation. Was an underlying reason for the cancellation the possibility that Mayor Finkbeiner himself felt threatened by the idea that the action would take place in downtown, where his offices are? Since he personally was not made aware of the training, should the whole ordeal have been canceled?

Miscommunication should not have resulted in the rejection of those who are trying to protect us. Whether the intentions towards the Marines were malevolent or not, this snafu does not help the city send a positive message to outsiders.

Hopefully the mayor’s office can learn from their mistakes, and other cities can take note on how to avoid controversy.

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