Pentagon: Texas has nothing to fear from upcoming military exercise
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has a message for Texas: chill.
Defense officials Monday dismissed as "wild speculation" an Internet-fueled claim that a massive summertime exercise called Jade Helm 15 for special operations commandos is a covert operation by President Barack Obama to take over Texas.
That claim was given legitimacy by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order last week for the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercises.
"Operation Jade Helm poses no threat to any American's civil liberties," Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday. "Operation Jade Helm is being conducted by Americans — by, specifically, American special forces personnel."
Jade Helm 15 will be one of the biggest peacetime military exercises in six decades. Starting July 15 and lasting two months, thousands of Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALS and other special operations forces will simulate war missions in mainly remote areas of Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.
Jade Helm 15 will take place on tracts of both public and private land in the seven states.
"In every case, extensive coordination has been completed with whoever's responsible for that land," Warren said. "In the case of private land, we've spoken and made detailed coordination with the patriotic Americans who have volunteered their land for the use of this important training."
The Texas State Guard said Monday it would follow Abbott's order. Asked by McClatchy whether it felt compelled to mobilize troops in order to monitor the exercises, Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, the unit's public affairs officer, responded: "The Texas State Guard stands ready to support the governor of Texas when called upon to serve."