Conservative furor over Operation Jade Helm 15 has convinced Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott to ask the State Guard to monitor the military training exercise in a letter he wrote on Tuesday.
The request arrives the day after more than 200 people attended at a meeting in rural Bastrop County. There, they grilled a U.S. Army commander about the nefarious gun-grabbing plans, or plans to impose martial law.
The County Judge, Paul Pape, said “conspiracy theorists” and “fear mongers” had been in a frenzy, and Pape thanked Abbott for the letter to the Texas State Guard, which he said emphasized the benefit of military training and did not supply more fuel to raging Inforwars inferno.
“It’s a sad when people’s greatest fear is their own government,” Pape said. “Think about the ramification of that. If Americans go to sleep at night worrying whether their own government is going to sell them out before morning, it’d be hard to sleep.”
For what it’s worth, no other governor has humored conspiracy theorists like this by addressing the training exercise. The exercise includes Texas and six other states, and is being held on private and public lands. The army says that the topography and terrain are ideal for replicating foreign combat zones.
Conservative suspicions stem from a map that made its rounds on social media and websites. It labeled Texas, Utah, and parts of California as “hostile” for the purposes of the three-month training exercise that begins in July.
The only thing that makes Jade Helm unique among war simulations is the size and scope.
In his letter to the State Guard, Abbott wrote, “It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed. By monitoring the Operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the Operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans.”
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria accused some people of having a “personal agenda” about the exercise, and spreading misinformation as a result. Lastoria told the crowd in Bastrop on Monday that the exercise will include 1,200 soldiers and all four branches of the military.
Lastoria spoke for two hours, but it didn’t convince everyone.
Pape told the AP that some people came all the way from Houston and Dallas to attend the meeting. The county stands to make as much as $150,000 from the exercise, which, in Bastrop, includes 60 soldiers, two Humvees, and a helicopter.
Balstrop is home to Camp Swift, too, which is the largest base for the Texas National Guard, but Pape said most people won’t even notice that.
“There’s been a lot of dust thrown in the air, a lot of haze,” Pape said. “Those who wanted to raise concerns on the one hand succeeded. They’ve raised a lot of attention about this. But the fact is the message is clear: Jade Helm is a well-designed and a well-constructed training operation.”