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Proposed Paramilitary Training Camp in Ocotillo Faces Foreclosure

Residents of Nomirage, a small desert community 17 miles east of San Diego County, were up in arms over a proposal by Wind Zero to build a 944-acre private paramilitary training facility just feet from their front doors. I wrote about the proposal submitted by a San Diego resident and former Navy Seal, Brandon Webb, in a January 26 article.

According to environmental documents, 57,000 rounds of ammunition would be fired at both indoor and semi-enclosed firing ranges, as well as at mock-up urban environments.

Nearby residents opposed the noise from the guns, the cars, and helicopters.

Well, those residents received some good news in their fight against the project. According to a blog post on Narco News, Webb is now waging a battle of his own, this one to prevent the property from being taken away.

In the article, San Diego attorney Stewart Cowan, who represents the former property owner and current deed holder, confirmed the news. “The note [loan] on the property is in default, and we are going through the foreclosure process,” Cowan told a reporter from Narco News.

Now, residents of Nomirage and environmental activists fighting against the plan worry that another paramilitary firm, such as former Blackwater now Xe Services, will step in and buy the land.

“There have been rumors floating around that Wind Zero has some type of affiliation with Xe, and that it is possible Wind Zero could sell it’s interest in the project,” Larry Silver of the California Environmental Law Project (the group representing the Sierra Club and Desert Protective Council) told Narco News.

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“The thing is, most of the time, San Diego waves are gutless. With paddle boards? That’s no problem.”

Residents of Nomirage, a small desert community 17 miles east of San Diego County, were up in arms over a proposal by Wind Zero to build a 944-acre private paramilitary training facility just feet from their front doors. I wrote about the proposal submitted by a San Diego resident and former Navy Seal, Brandon Webb, in a January 26 article.

According to environmental documents, 57,000 rounds of ammunition would be fired at both indoor and semi-enclosed firing ranges, as well as at mock-up urban environments.

Nearby residents opposed the noise from the guns, the cars, and helicopters.

Well, those residents received some good news in their fight against the project. According to a blog post on Narco News, Webb is now waging a battle of his own, this one to prevent the property from being taken away.

In the article, San Diego attorney Stewart Cowan, who represents the former property owner and current deed holder, confirmed the news. “The note [loan] on the property is in default, and we are going through the foreclosure process,” Cowan told a reporter from Narco News.

Now, residents of Nomirage and environmental activists fighting against the plan worry that another paramilitary firm, such as former Blackwater now Xe Services, will step in and buy the land.

“There have been rumors floating around that Wind Zero has some type of affiliation with Xe, and that it is possible Wind Zero could sell it’s interest in the project,” Larry Silver of the California Environmental Law Project (the group representing the Sierra Club and Desert Protective Council) told Narco News.

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According to Wikipedia, "Xe tried to open an 824-acre training facility three miles north of Potrero, a small town in rural east San Diego County, California located 45 miles east of San Diego, for military and law enforcement training." After opposition from nearby residents and Rep. Bob Filner, "On March 7, 2008, Blackwater [new Xe] withdrew its application to set up a facility in San Diego County."

Oct. 25, 2011

The pressure in the local area to locate paramilitary training facilities is a direct result of the overall failure of US planning for contingencies. The US, described as the sole remaining super power, had an army of fewer than 500,000 personnel on 9/11/01. That meant that its army was smaller than that of North Korea and other potential foes. Moreover, that army was spread worldwide, fulfilling commitments made to other nations to provide or assist in their security.

Thus the US entered into an invasion and regime change in Afghanistan that drags on to today. Then in 2003 the war in Iraq was started without any addition to the strength in numbers of troops in the army. Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of Defense, decided that the forces were "enormously capable" and did not need to be expanded, one of many egregious errors made by Rummy. There were many others. We soon found ourselves running an occupation of Iraq that required two or three times the number of troops available for such duty. That brought in the private contractor, the security specialists, who were in truth mercenaries. But where to train them?

During the Clinton years, while the US military, and especially the army, was being shrunk, many of the training bases (referred to as "posts" in the army) were closed and sold off or given away. One prime example is Fort Ord near Monterey that was home to basic training for decades and which also hosted the 7th Infantry Division at the end of the Reagan era. The division is no more, and the post was closed and basically given to the state. It now is home to a California State University campus, but that occupies only a small area of what was a sprawling installation.

Had the US not so drastically downsized its military and its training capabilities, it could have ramped up its troop strength rapidly. Many young people were ready to volunteer in the wake of the terror attack. But the military could not absorb large numbers of recruits. Worse yet, in disposing of those locations, they could not be made available to companies like the odious Blackwater (now Xe) and others. So, they were obliged to find places to train elsewhere.

Would it not be better if those mercenaries, which we seem to require now, be trained in places that were set aside for that purpose in the early 20th century? Yes it would, but those are, for the most part, gone for good. And so Xe looks for small training facilities in such out-of-the-way spots as Potrero, the Los Coyotes reservation, and Ocotillo.

Just the product of poor planning and poorer execution.

Oct. 27, 2011

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