A key component of the controversial Jade Helm military exercise set to take part in nine U.S. states this summer will involve soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian populations,” to see if they can infiltrate without being noticed.
The “realistic” military training exercise, which will involve the Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, is set to take place from July 15-Sepember 15, but has prompted concerns after Texas and Utah were labeled “hostile” territory in documents related to the exercise.
A Houston Chronicle report reveals that soldiers will attempt to blend in with the local population in an effort to test the effectiveness of infiltration techniques. Residents will be advised to report “suspicious activity” during the exercise.
“They’re going to set up cells of people and test how well they’re able to move around without getting too noticed in the community,” said Roy Boyd, chief deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. “They’re testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover.”
By directly involving unwitting members of the local population, this aspect of the drill contradicts the Army’s assertion that, “The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas.”
Jim Stewart, chief deputy with the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office, told the Chronicle that the designation of Texas as “hostile territory” was merely a way of setting up a role playing exercise under which soldiers operate behind enemy lines.
The Army has failed to specifically address why Texas, Utah and a pocket of southern California were labeled as hostile territories in training documents for the exercise, merely insisting that the drill is designed to prepare troops for foreign occupations and has nothing to do with preparations for martial law.
No less than 17 different Texas cities will see an Army presence as part of the exercise, which will involve, “participants in civilian dress and civilian vehicles, military aircraft, low-altitude airdrops of personnel and weapons with blank rounds, to avert fearful reactions”.
The cities are Bastrop/Smithville, Big Spring, Caddo Lake, Caldwell, Christoval, College Station, Dell City, Eldorado, Goliad, Junction, Leakey, Menard, Mountain Home, San Angelo, San Antonio and Victoria.
News outlets, primarily Infowars, who questioned the nature of the exercise have come under fire from the Army and other mainstream media outlets, with the Chronicle characterizing the reaction as an example of, “ultra-right-wing fears of a government takeover in the Lone Star State”.
Despite assurances that the training is to prepare troops for overseas missions, Army documents in the past have made clear that plans for martial law are in place for within the Continental United States (CONUS).
A leaked 2012 US Army Military Police training manual, entitled “Civil Disturbance Operations,” described how soldiers would be ordered to confiscate firearms and kill American “dissidents.” The manual also revealed that prisoners would be detained in temporary internment camps and “re-educated” to gain a new appreciation of “U.S. policies,” in accordance with U.S. Army FM 3-19.40 Internment/Resettlement Operations.
Jade Helm has also drawn comparisons to a 2012 scenario outlined by retired Army colonel Kevin Benson, in which the U.S. Military is used to crush an insurgent rebellion overseen by Tea Party militia members who take over the city of Darlington, South Carolina.