Throughout July and September of this year, the US Army’s Special Operations Command will conduct Operation Jade Helm, a covert warfare training exercise set to take place on civilian territory amid 17 Texas cities. The Houston Chronicle notes that Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and Air Force and Marines special operators will be taking part in the program and will attempt to blend in with civilians to test their covert warfare capabilities.

Newsmax pointed out the fact that Texas’ own Alex Jones published a US map, seen below, purported to be part of Operation Jade Helm’s documentation, which lists Texas and Utah as hostile territory, along with a part of Southern California which appears to be listed as an “insurgent pocket.” Jones characterized the effort as an invasion of Texas and claimed that the program is an attempt to prepare for the implementation of martial law in places like Texas and Utah where large numbers of citizens associate with right-leaning groups like the Tea Party. Operation Jade Helm’s documents also refer to coordination between the military and law enforcement, raising concerns that some elements of the training exercise might run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act, which bans the military from participating in law enforcement activities on US soil.

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Army Special Operations Command spokesperson Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria addressed Alex Jones’ concerns and told Stars and Stripes, “That notion was proposed by a few individuals who are unfamiliar with how and why USASOC conducts training exercises… This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for Army Special Operations Forces because they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.” Lastoria said that the Texas locations were chosen for the exercise due to their similarities to overseas terrain, not to prepare for an assault on Texas. He also said that the coordination between the military and law enforcement is necessary because the covert training exercise is being carried out on civilian territory where law enforcement officers maintain jurisdiction.

Stars and Stripes‘ Jon Harper wrote, “Officials at USASOC were not able to immediately verify the authenticity of the [above-embedded map] because their computer firewalls prevented them from accessing the websites where the document appeared.”

Victoria County, TX Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Ray Boyd described the training program in comments to The Houston Chronicle, “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… They’re testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover.”

Whether the training program is a secret effort to plan for a future Texas takeover or a routine exercise to prepare special operators for overseas covert warfare, if the Army officials behind the effort drew up a map characterizing Texas as hostile territory, even for simulation purposes, it should come as no surprise that Texans like Alex Jones would be outraged at what is, at a minimum, troubling optics.

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