In the summer of 2015, it was widely believed in Texas that they were about to be invaded by the United States Army in an operation labeled Jade Helm 15.
Governor Greg Abbot called upon the Texas National Guard to monitor the exercise and insure Texas was not under attack. Other public officials expressed concern.
In fact, the Army did plan summer training exercises in a number of states: Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Utah. Some 1200 Green Berets and Navy Seals would participate in Jade Helm 15: some playing the part of an invading force and others playing the part of the resistance. Most of the action would occur in unoccupied, arid terrain, but where some small towns were involved, residents were briefed in advance. The purpose was to train the military in how to avoid an invasion of the USA by hostile forces.
Nonetheless, some feared the “exercise” was a ruse with darker motives. Jim Shea, reporting in the Hartford Courant, nicely summed up the key elements of the conspiracy theory.
That Jade Helm 15 is actually a psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing the military on the streets so they will not be tipped off when the invasion actually happens.
That Jade Helm 15 is an international operation (UN vehicles have been spotted) whose goal is to seize everyone’s guns.
That the military plans to round up political dissidents.
In addition to the rounding up of dissidents and political leaders, Shea adds one final element in the conspiracy theory.
That the military is secretly using recently closed Wal-Marts to stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans. (I have to say this is my personal favorite.)
One public opinion poll found a third of registered Republicans in Texas believed invasion was in the offing. This included half of those supporting the Tea Party. So, there was concern in the general public, but how about the public officials who could calm those fears?
On April 28, 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the following letter:
To address concerns of Texas citizens and to ensure that Texas communities remain safe, secure and informed about military procedures occurring in their vicinity, I am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15.
During the Operation’s eight-week training period… I expect to receive regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation.
During the training operation, 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.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz told Bloomberg News he had discussed Jade Helm 15 with the Pentagon and reached this conclusion:
We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.
Texas Congressman, Louie Gohmert, expressed his concerns this way:
Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution.
Former Governor Rick Perry tried to offer some reassurance to Texans. While saying there was every reason to question the civilian leadership of the nation, he had complete faith in the men and women making up the U. S. military.
Was the Problem Real?
No. There was no invasion of the Southwestern U. S., no American citizens were taken prisoner. It was simply an hysterical conspiracy theory, though there may be some in the Lone Star State who still believe the National Guard fought off the invaders.
I suppose a negative of the “Solution” would be the cost of engaging the National Guard and the disruption of Guardsmen’s lives. In addition, the reaction put Texas on the plate of humorists and comedians across the country. One T-shirt read: “I went to Texas to fight Jade Helm 15 and all I got was this tinfoil hat.” In addition to making the state look silly, the widespread conspiracy theory and the public officials who seemed to take it seriously fueled the existing political paranoia in Texas and across the nation. We seem to have survived Jade Helm 15.
But watch out for the zombie invasion.
© Earl Babbie 2016, all rights reserved Terms of Service/Privacy
Jim Shea, “Thank You Texas and Good Luck with the Invasion,” Hartford Courant, May 17, 2015 — http://www.courant.com/features/too-shea/hc-shea-weakinreview-0517-20150517-column.html
David Weigel, “Ted Cruz Says He Has Asked the Pentagon for Answers on Jade Helm 15,” Bloomberg Politics, May 2, 2015 – http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-02/ted-cruz-says-he-has-asked-the-pentagon-for-answers-on-jade-helm-15
David Knowles, “Worried about Operation Jade Helm? Texas Republicans Hear You,” Bloomberg Politics, May 5, 2015 – http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-06/4-texas-republicans-sympathetic-over-jade-helm-15-fears