An upcoming US Army training exercise has the state of Texas ablaze with paranoia, over conspiratorial fears that the government is using it as an excuse to impose “martial law”. The allegation is so insane that it’s laughable, but apparently the state government is taking it seriously enough that Governor Greg Abbot announced that he is deploying the Texas State Guard– not the National Guard, but a state-organized militia- to “monitor” the exercise.
Thanks to a frenzy of conspiracy theories propagated by internet lunatics and gun nuts, some “200 people packed a meeting in rural Bastrop County and questioned a U.S. Army commander about whether the government was planning to confiscate guns or implement martial law”. Despite a two-hour speech from Lt. Col Mark Lastoria, the people remain unconvinced and Governor Abbot wrote that:
“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.”
Operation Jade Helm 15 is a multi-branch major training exercise that will take place in both populated and wilderness areas across six states. It is unique in its scope and territory, but has been designed such to adapt to the changing nature of warfare in the modern era. The terrain in Southwest states is not dissimilar to possible foreign countries where American soldiers might be deployed. Lastoria, attempting to calm the ridiculous reaction among overly suspicious Texans, stated that “The nature of warfare is always changing and U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s mission is to make certain the Army’s various Special Operations Forces are trained, equipped and organized to successfully conduct worldwide special operations in support of our nation’s interests”.
Part of this suspicion stems from an operations map which labels Texas and Utah as “hostile” territory, but anyone with half a lick of sense can understand that the designations are for training purposes. Training exercises like these happen regularly, but no state has ever reacted like this. It makes one wonder what kind of separatist culture is brewing in Texas where our own military is regarded with such suspicion and that people legitimately fear that “Obama is coming to take your guns away!”. It’s also concerning that Texas has its own separate state militia at all. The fear-mongering propaganda of Fox News has a lot to answer for.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.