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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

White House dismisses talk of Texas takeover

Guard to ‘monitor’ U.S. troops


The White House tried to reassure Americans and the

 governor of Texas Wednesday that a planned special U.S. 

military training operation in several southwestern states is

 no cause for alarm.
The plans have raised fears among some Texans of a

 federal occupation.
“In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any

 American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is

 being conducted,” said White House press secretary Josh


The military exercise is called Operation Jade

 Helm15 and will involve about 1,200 special forces training

 over eight

 weeks that will simulate special operations in hostile

 territory. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered members of

 the Texas State Guard to “monitor” the federal troops in the

 upcoming exercise.
Asked by a reporter in the White House press corps whether

 Texans were expressing “paranoia” or whether their 

concerns were justified, Mr. Earnest refuted reports that the

 special forces would be “incognito.”
“My understanding is that the individuals who are

 participating in the exercise won’t be traveling incognito, that

 they’ll be wearing arm bands,” he said.
As for the governor, Mr. Earnest said, “I have no idea what

 he’s thinking.”
Then he added to the laughter of many reporters at the White

 House, “I might have an idea of what he’s thinking, but I’m

 not going to …” His voice trailed off.
In a letter to Major Gen. Gerald Betty of the Texas State

 Guard, Mr. Abbott said he was taking the action “to address

 concerns of Texas citizens.”
“During the training operation, it is important that Texans 

know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights

 and civil liberties will not be infringed,” the governor wrote. “I

 am directing the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation

 Jade Helm 15.”
The State Guard is comprised of volunteer reservists, and

 the force is commanded by the governor.
At a special meeting Monday of the Bastrop County, Texas,

 commissioners, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria tried to

 assure local residents that the training operation will be

 routine and said it’s vital to prepare soldiers for real

“The terrain is very challenging and it’s going to make our

 soldiers sweat, and sweating in peacetime is what we want

 because it’s going to reduce the bleeding in wartime,” he

But his presentation didn’t allay the concerns of some

“It’s the same thing that happened in Nazi Germany,” Bob

 Wells of Bastrop told the Austin American-Statesman. “You

 get the people used to the troops on the street, the 

appearance of uniformed troops and the militarization of the 

police. They’re gathering intelligence. That’s what they’re

 doing. And they’re moving logistics in place for martial law.

 That’s my feeling. Now I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong.

 I hope I’m a ‘conspiracy theorist.’”
The training exercise is to run from July 15 to Sept. 15, and

 will involve all four branches of the military. Bastrop is one of

 12 Texas counties where the operation will take place.
Lt. Col. Lastoria said soldiers will wear either uniforms or

 orange arm bands to show that they are part of the training.

 The special forces involved in the exercise will use military

 equipment to travel between seven Southwestern states, 

from Texas to California.
Radio host Alex Jones has been warning that the exercise

 will involve soldiers operating “undetected amongst civilian

 populations.” The plans for the drill first caused alarm when

 it was discovered that Texas and Utah were labeled “hostile”

 territory in documents connected with the training exercise.
Lt. Col. Lastoria told citizens in Bastrop County that Texas

 has traditionally been welcoming to the military.
“You may have issues with the administration. So be it,” he

 said, according to the American-Statesman. “But this

 institution right here has been with you for over 200 years

. I’ve worn this uniform across five different administrations

 for 27 years.”

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