U.S. Army Special Operations Command says that, contrary to reports circulating on conspiracy websites, it has no plans to invade Texas.
Some fringe websites have paraded a PowerPoint presentation, reportedly from USASOC, as evidence of Jade Helm 15, a series of military exercises across California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Texas. They say it will train the U.S. military to suppress American citizens rebelling in a coming military coup or civil war.
The Army says Jade Helm is a real exercise and will take place in the Southwest, as the slides indicate. But USASOC spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria said that's the extent of the reports' accuracy.
"It's a training exercise. Just a regular training exercise," Lastoria said of Jade Helm, which USASOC documentation references as a training exercise in at least one previous year as well.
Lastoria said more information on the specifics of the exercise would be available Tuesday. He said USASOC could not immediately verify the slideshow, which says the exercises will take place from July 15 to Sept. 15.
The documentation said the joint unconventional warfare exercise will consist of 1,200 service members, including special forces from all four branches, Marine expeditionary forces and the 82nd Airborne Division.
Nothing in the presentation (with slides marked "unclassified") contradicts the assertion that Jade Helm is merely a training exercise. It does note that civilian areas could notice some effects; one slide lays out some details of the "increased military presence," including the potential for noise complaints and noting that personnel may be carrying weapons loaded with blanks.
Conspiracy websites painted language regarding civilian impact as revealing of the true nature of the mission: to prepare for abducting dissidents from their homes.
Many of the conspiracy sites have focused in on the selection of Texas as a "hostile" territory. To them, a high degree of libertarian support, pro-gun leanings and patriotism make Texas a target. The slides also mark Utah and a pocket in Southern California as "hostile," while New Mexico is "uncertain (leaning hostile)" and Arizona is "uncertain (leaning friendly)."
The presentation slides say the area was chosen for its large undeveloped tracts of land and low population density. Texas in particular was chosen as the hub of the operation because it has been traditionally military-friendly, easing the impact or alarm the forces' presence might impose on localities, according to the slides. There is also a slide outlining safety measures, including keeping local authorities and communities informed regarding exercises.
The headline on InfoWars reads "Feds preparing to invade Texas, list state as 'Hostile.'" Site founder Alex Jones said in a taped segment that it's likely preparation for military actions to follow an imminent financial collapse or the end of Barack Obama's presidential term. In another segment on the site, Joe Biggs — cited as a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq – said the exercises would prepare troops to "throw citizens in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) camps," citing as evidence the military's desire to train in an environment similar to where they will fight.
An article on All News PipeLine also connects the reports to what it alleges are "FEMA 'death domes' popping up across Texas," purportedly to house captured American insurgents.