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Army Rangers to train in North Bend

Starting this week, don't be surprised if you hear helicopters at night or notice one or two government trucks driving through town.

From June 8 through June 16, U.S. Rangers from the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Lewis, will conduct military exercises at the Washington State Patrol's Fire Training Academy along Southeast Grouse Ridge Road in North Bend.

"This is just a routine training event and these kinds of events are periodically conducted to maintain a high level of readiness for soldiers," said Carol Darby, chief of media and community relations for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The Rangers will not be training every night, but Darby declined to provide specifics due to security concerns.

The training will typically occur after 11 p.m. and end by about 1:30 a.m.

"The intent is to train as safely and as courteously [to the community] as possible," Darby said.

The 120-to-150-member company will use training ammunition (blanks) and the realistic setting that the fire training academy offers to practice airfield seizures, raids and other "direct-action type missions," said Maj. Richard Scott.

This is the first time the Rangers will train in the Valley; Scott selected the training location after viewing the academy online a few months ago.

"What's so great about the academy is that it is secluded and it's away from the community," he said, noting that residents should not expect to hear more than the occasional aircraft or truck, though there may be eight to 12 helicopters at times during the night. "It gives us a realistic environment and several options for training."

In order to use the fire training academy, the Rangers had to pay a fee, participate in an environmental baseline survey and then pass a 30-day review for formal approval by the city of North Bend.

Darby said that training off base is just another way for the Rangers to keep their skills fresh and to challenge participants by using what they have learned in unfamiliar locations. Urban locations also emulate possible terrain that the military might face in real combat.

The training is not open for public viewing.

About 7,000 people train at the fire training academy annually, said Frank Garza, the administrator of the academy. It is open for public and private use, and used for training in fire, emergency response, hazardous materials and more.

Citizens are directed to call the King County Sheriff's Office at (425) 888-4433 for information or to voice concerns.

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