WHEN the military conducts widespread training exercises, what do you think? Preparedness? Boys’ toys? In the United States it equals civil war.
The US Army’s Special Operations Command never saw this coming.
An upcoming exercise codenamed JADE HELM 15 has sparked suspicion among some conspiracy theorists of impending martial law and a US military plot to wage war on the American people.
“Jade Helm is a challenging eight-week joint military and Interagency (IA) Unconventional Warfare (UW) exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado,” a statement announcing a large-scale military training drill reads.
Mobilised will be 1200 troops of the Green Berets, Navy Seals and the 82nd Airborne Division. Supporting them will be specialist aircraft and helicopter units from the US Air Force, Navy and Army.
It’s scheduled to run from July 15 to September 15.
It’s all for a cause: Special forces have special requirements.
They’re maintained at a high level of readiness to respond to hot-spots around the world. This involves the need to travel great distances, assess unfamiliar terrain, find targets and choose appropriate means of action.
The raid in which al-Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden was assassinated is one such example.
To achieve such a goal requires a great deal of coordination between large numbers of men from different elements of the military.
So “realistic” practice makes perfect.
But the word “realistic” appears to have some concerning connotations amid the incredibly polarised politics of the United States.
At least when it comes to a slide show presentation said to be associated with the impending exercise.
It has “concerned citizens” up in arms.
At the centre of similar, past training exercises is usually a threatening insurgent action and an objective which either needs to be destroyed or recovered.
But some of the advanced role-play planning for this exercise appears to have leaked.
An unverified document circulating online includes a map purportedly labelling parts of Texas and Utah as an “insurgent pocket”.
It’s titled: “US Army Special Operations Command — Request to Conduct Realistic Military Training (RMT) JADE HELM 15.”
It a document “detailing the US Army’s plan to wage war on the American people,” screams the far-right blog infowars.com.
“Despite the document’s claims, multiple Army training manuals and studies in the past have specifically targeted such states due to concerns over the growing influence of right-leaning ideologies and groups, such as the Tea Party.”
The purported training material also mentions coordinating with local police, increased aircraft in the area at night and soldiers wearing civilian clothes and driving civilian vehicles.
Therefore armed Federal Government suppression of liberty-loving civilians. Right?
That’s left US Special Forces command scratching its collective head.
“That notion was proposed by a few individuals who are unfamiliar with how and why USASOC conducts training exercises,” Special Forces Command spokesman Army Lt. Colonel Mark Lastoria told Stars and Stripes.
The only thing different about JADE HELM 15 was the use of out-of-base “new challenging terrain”, he said, chosen because of its remoteness and similarity to conditions where troops are operational overseas.
Is your state next?
Planned cooperation with local law enforcement was to avoid unfortunate misshape or misunderstandings with the general community.
“This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for Army Special Operations Forces,” Major Lastoria reiterates.
It’s also quite a tame conspiracy, considering allegations President Barack Obama recently sought to have the South Carolina city of Charleston nuked.
So who’s telling the truth?
We’ll find out come September 15.