The Texas counties of Victoria and Goliad, originally scheduled as two of the sites for the massive Jade Helm 15 military war simulation exercises across the Southwest this summer, will no longer host the operations, reported the Victoria (Texas) Advocate. No reason for the cancellations has yet been released.
Covered in depth by The New American, Jade Helm 15 has been the source of increasing concern and speculation among residents of Texas, ever since a map connected with the training operations surfaced that labeled the states of Texas and Utah as "hostile," while more liberal states were tagged as "permissive." Disquieted and unconvinced residents do not trust that the military and federal government are telling them the truth, or that the media is accurately representing their concerns.
The Goliad Advance-Guard noted that the Goliad County exercise was to have been conducted on the famed O’Connor Ranch, property owned by Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor. Various publications have been unable to elicit responses from the Army Special Operation Command, and as of press time, The New American had not received answers from calls to the two sheriffs of Victoria and Goliad Counties.
Mention of "Jade Helm" anywhere in central and south Texas these days will most likely not receive a neutral response. Talk of the controversial military training exercises has been akin to prodding a rattlesnake, polarizing some residents against their county and city governments.
The mainstream media have focused on reporting conspiracy theories, with few interviews of residents in targeted Texas areas — including the small Bastrop County town in which this reporter resides, which will be one of the hosts of Jade Helm. The county will host a large portion of the military events, and sentiment is running high here against the military exercises, as well as against city and county officials for not informing the citizens until after the decision had been made to host the operations. One resident wondered which was more frightening: Jade Helm itself, or a county government so out of touch with its residents that it didn’t realize they would be concerned.
Communities are reporting various accounts of what they’ve been told by the military command personnel. A Victoria resident who closely follows all city council meetings told The New American that there was no mention of the exercise until after it was cancelled. “We never heard anything about it till after the fact," said the resident, "and only then were assured it would only have been out in the country, anyway, and we never would have seen [the military personnel].”
A different report comes from the Bastrop County town of Smithville. One resident remembers the city council meeting at which the plan was announced: “We were told that personnel would be in plain clothes and in uniform, on Main Street, out in the community and would be armed. Since that first meeting, those things have never been acknowledged again, and we don’t feel that our concerns have been acknowledged at all.”
From another, “We’d like Jade Helm to withdraw from our town.” And yet another, “This seems a violation of Posse Comitatus" (a federal law passed in 1878 which forbade the use of the military in domestic law enforcement).
One Smithville resident, pressed to articulate all the things that bothered him about the events, boiled them down to this: “Why are they really here? This isn’t right — the military doesn’t belong in our town.”
A resident with a practical frame of mind told The New American that he wonders why military exercises would not be conducted on any number of the military properties in the area. Camp Swift (Texas Army National Guard) is in Bastrop County, and Fort Hood (with 214,000 acres) and other military bases are within 100 miles. His conclusion was that county residents were not being told the full truth about Jade Helm 15.
And finally, one responded, when told that the town was chosen because it “looks like a place where the military would have to conduct warfare," “What place looks like this — except this?”
Interestingly, similar responses cross party and racial lines, as well as age and political bent. Local media in the targeted Texas counties have been either neutral or supportive, and city and county council leadership continue to defend their decisions. But many residents remain angered, and consider their leadership to be unresponsive, despite a recent Bastrop County commissioners meeting held to address their concerns.
The astute reader will note that the residents quoted above were not identified — by their own insistence. Perhaps their positions can best be summarized by the thoughts of a Bastrop County resident who once lived in South America and other environs abroad, and who also asked to remain anonymous. The resident declared,
What bothered me most [about Jade Helm] was that people didn’t know about it. This is how it started in my country [before its takeover]. The military became a presence more powerful than government instead of the other way around.
And the first thing that raises my hackles now is that Jade Helm forces will be in plain clothes. In my country, that was a way to ease residents’ fears and become friendly with them. [Military personnel] would then expect assistance from locals, and determine their level of loyalty by getting close to them — but people didn’t have a way to know who they were! The military was learning whom they could trust.
And people were encouraged to report anything that could be construed as subversive. It planted the idea that to be against the government was to be a conspirator. The result was that people learned not to dissent. [They] would not speak the truth, even if they disagreed with what they saw.
Eventually, when the middle class disappeared, the only ones left were those who would comply. They thought they had too much to lose, but the only thing they lost was the only thing that mattered: freedom, which they thought they were defending. No one wanted to be seen as opposing the military, or having a differing opinion.
I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here, but this is how it starts.