One week before the controversial Jade Helm 15 military exercise is scheduled to begin, U.S. military officials announced that journalists will not be allowed to embed with the military. Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, told The Washington Post that embedded journalists will not be allowed but later in the summer the Army might allow “a small number of journalists to view selected portions of the exercise.”
In late March Truth In Media’s Barry Donegan reported on Jade Helm:
“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 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.”
The exercise is scheduled to run from July 15 through September 15.
“All requests from the media for interviews and coverage of U.S. Army Special Operations Command personnel, organizations and events are assessed for feasibility and granted when and where possible,” Lt. Col. Lastoria told The Post on Wednesday. “We are dedicated to communicating with the public, while balancing that against the application of operations security and other factors.”
Lastoria also said it would not be possible to allow a journalist to travel with Special Operations forces in the field. Despite this, The Post reports that media has previously been granted access to Special Ops for reports and books, including the 2011 book “The Wrong War,” by Bing West, and the 2013 work “One Hundred Victories,” by Linda Robinson.
Lt. Col. Lastoria claims that Jade Helm will not be as large as initially described in training materials. The exercise will include around 200 Special Operations forces and 300 additional support personnel. The length of the exercise, number of personnel and labeling of areas as “hostile” has stoked the flames of Americans’ distrust in government.
In late April Texas Governor Greg Abbot sent a letter to Major General Gerald Betty of the Texas State Guard, ordering the Texas military to monitor the federal troops throughout the two month exercise.
[quote_box_center]“DURING THE TRAINING OPERATION, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT TEXANS KNOW THEIR SAFETY, CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHT AND CIVIL LIBERTIES WILL NOT BE INFRINGED. I AM DIRECTING THE TEXAS STATE GUARD TO MONITOR OPERATION JADE HELM 15.” – TEXAS GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT[/quote_box_center]
Despite Abbot’s actions many Texans still seem to doubt that Jade Helm is a standard training exercise. Speaking in Bastrop, Texas (one of the sites of Jade Helm exercises), Lt. Col. Lastoria attempted to quell the fears of the community. The Post reports that Lastoria stressed that the scenario was fictional.
[quote_box_center]”Jade Helm is intended to simulate U.S. Special Forces helping resistance fighters restore democracy in an imaginary country. The operation’s logo, which features a Dutch wooden shoe, is meant to represent anti-Nazi resistance in World War II Europe.”[/quote_box_center]
Only 60 of the 1,200 troops are scheduled to be in Bastrop for the training, the majority said to be at Camp Swift, a large Army National Guard base in Bastrop, as well as private property.
In April the Houston Chronicle reported that two Texas counties, Victoria and Goliad, cancelled their portions of the exercise without explanation.
Whether or not Operation Jade Helm ends up being a hostile takeover or simply overblown fears, there does exist a precedent for the U.S. government targeting its own citizens. Documents like the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report and other documents from the Department of Homeland Security have many Americans asking why everyday, constitutionally protected behavior and thought is becoming criminalized. Many 2nd Amendment supporters and libertarian activists see the federal government as a grave danger to personal liberties.
What are your thoughts? Is Jade Helm a concern or just another conspiracy theory lacking evidence? Leave your thoughts below.
Derrick Broze will be in Bastrop, Texas reporting on the beginning of the Jade Helm exercise. For updates follow him on twitter: @DBrozeLiveFree