According to several media sources, including the Washington Post and the Stars and Stripes, the U. S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) announced on March 31 an upcoming military training exercise code-named Jade Helm 15. The name itself may raise suspicion, but it’s not enough to support right-wing apprehension and claims the real purpose of the exercise is to impose martial law in Texas and other states.
Ironically, an attempt to search USASOC’s website produces a popup in which the browser cannot find the site’s server. That will only give rise to a cover-up and more conspiracy theories.
The Army’s website, however, states that special operations must continue to evolve as the military faces increasing unconventional threats, and it quotes USASOC’s commander as saying “I truly do believe that we’re in an era where as the world becomes more complex, we’re going to have to get and make a science out of how to fight or use all of our capacity as a nation.”
The commander’s statement is consistent with a description of the exercise by a USASOC spokesman. The training program will occur from July 15 to September 15 at locations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada. It will take place on terrain similar to conditions special operations forces operate in overseas. It will occur outside of military bases to simulate contact with civilian entities and suspects. Because of this, the Army will coordinate with local law enforcement and civilian agencies to provide information and ensure safety of operations — not to impose federal control.
Does this not sound simply like a training exercise focused on terrorist activities or even organizations such as the Islamic State? Should it be the source of rumor, paranoia and hysteria aimed at the federal government?
And yet, Texas governor Greg Abbott has promoted that fear by ordering the Texas National Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15 to “address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinities….” He raised concerns about the safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties of Texans. The governor said information about the Army operations is necessary to “ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”
As would be expected, Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined the fray, saying the government has caused fear and distrust by disrespecting the liberty of citizens for the last six years. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R., Tex) noted Texas and several other states that have been labeled “hostile” for purposes of the exercise all have Republican majorities. Videos produced by anti-government militias reportedly compare Jade Helm 15 to what happened in Nazi Germany before World War II.
These unfounded criticisms of a legitimate military training operation should be labeled for what they are: attacks on President Barack Obama by those who have done everything they could to destroy his presidency.
It’s a sad commentary on our society today differences of opinion become the basis for challenging the integrity and patriotism of those with whom one may disagree. Why should the governor of Texas and others be concerned about protecting Texans from the United States Army? The answer is simple: they shouldn’t be.
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aid and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at email@example.com.