U. S. Army drills to train special operations forces for conflicts overseas began on Wednesday in several states including Texas, where fears of military overreach prompted the governor to ask the State Guard to monitor the exercises.
The Jade Helm 15 exercises run through Sept. 15 on public and private
land with about 1,200 troops training in an area that sprawls for more
than 1,000 miles. It was the first time the Army has undertaken such
large-scale special ops drills, military officials said.
They will allow soldiers to “further develop tactics, techniques and
procedures for emerging concepts in Special Operations warfare,” U.S.
Army Special Operations Command said.
The exercises had an unintended consequence when they were announced
earlier this year: elaborate conspiracy theories from a small but vocal
groups of people who are deeply suspicious of the federal government.
“Everyone needs to be worried all the time, with the Hitler wan-a-be
in the whitehouse,” Texan David Childers wrote in a social media
discussion about the drills.
Fears mushroomed across right-wing blogs, with some theorizing the
military will launch psychological operations to infiltrate society.
Others maintained tunnels would be built to move troops and arms for
surprise attacks on civilians.
A financial crisis will be cooked up that leads to nationwide chaos
and then a call from Washington for troops on American streets to
restore order, they said.
Responding to the worries, Republican Governor Greg Abbott said he
would deploy the State Guard to monitor the drills to protect civil
liberties and property rights.
His April announcement was met with criticism from Texas Republican
leaders who said suspicion of our own troops must stop and an editorial
from the Dallas Morning News that called the Abbott move
The governor’s office this week said the monitoring will consist of a
handful of Texas Guard members meeting drill organizers on a regular
basis at a Guard base in Austin to discuss what has gone on and what is
The U.S. Army Special Operations Command has tried to reassure the public about the drills.
“All we want to do is make sure our guys are trained for combat
overseas. That’s it,” Lieutenant Colonel Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for
Army Special Operations Command, said at a town hall in Bastrop, Texas,