Don’t be surprised this summer if you hear about strange happenings in the Southwest. Around 1,200 Special Forces members are set to infiltrate seven states in July while participating in a domestic military exercise that will run about eight weeks.
The Daily Mail reported that Operation Jade Helm will include service members from the Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs and Air Force and MARSOC. Some of the operators will train undetected among civilians.
The exercise will take place in and around towns in Texas, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. Some of the forces will carry weapons loaded with blank rounds. Others will be dropped from planes. It is all part of what officials are calling “Realistic Military Training.”
The different states have been dubbed anything from “friendly” to “hostile” territories. The entire states of Utah and Texas have been categorized as “hostile,” worrying some residents that the drills are too realistic.
Austin-based radio commentator Alex Jones said, “They’re having Delta Force, Navy SEALs with the Army trained to basically take over. Texas is listed as a hostile sector, and of course we are. We’re here defending the republic.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, the troops will attempt to operate undetected in some areas, hiding among civilian populations. Military officials stated that they have already gotten authorization from local governments to proceed. As part of the exercise, authorities will ask residents to report any suspicious activity as an attempt to measure the effectiveness of the soldiers.
Brazos County Sheriff’s Office stated that these type of exercises have occurred before. Jim Stewart, an Army veteran with the sheriff’s department, said, “Special ops for years have trained off-post, where they go out and have folks that are role players out on the economy. They’ll have a scenario they’ll be following and they’ll interact with these role players as if they’re in another country.”
However, The Daily Mail reported that the U.S. Army Special Operations Command is stating that Operation Jade Helm is considerably different, because its size and scope sets it apart.
The military responded to widespread fear of the exercise and the tale that it is an attempt to enforce martial law by stating the rumors are false and inaccurate.
“That notion was proposed by a few individuals who are unfamiliar with how and why USASOC conducts training exercises,” said spokesman Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria. “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.”