Jade Helm 15 is now a little over a month into it’s operations. While fear mongering, conspiracies, and strange sightings were abundant leading up to the exercise, not much has been said about the drill since it began… or has it?
MoneyMorning.com writes: We’ve been told by military commanding personnel that [Jade Helm is] a massive multistate training exercise designed to prepare troops for unconventional warfare.
But some folks aren’t buying it. There are too many unanswered questions. Too many details left obscure. Some theorists believe the exercise is a government conspiracy to launch a hostile takeover of Texas. Others think that troops participating in the exercise are members of death squads coming to kill off “free-thinking citizens.”
While some of these theories seem extreme, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did little to quell concerns when he requested a month and a half in advance of the exercise that it be monitored by the Texas Army National Guard.
So, the National Guard was deployed to oversee Jade Helm 15 when it kicked off on July 15 in Bastrop, Texas. (The massive exercise also commenced in other states. Bastrop, however, had been the center of the Jade Helm controversy specifically because of the localized reaction there. People were full of skepticism.)
On that first day, nothing fishy appeared to happen. RawStory reported July 17 there were no visible troops and no army vehicles spotted at all. The only slight disturbance that day, reported a July 15 post on TexasTribune.com, was temporary disruption in cell connection. Amber Downing, a reporter for KVUE.com out of Austin, Texas, stated that the training was indeed underway, but on private property. City officials, Downing said, would not be releasing the details of those whereabouts.
But what about states other than Texas? I recently came across an article about the famed American town Biloxi, Mississippi – often referred to as the “Las Vegas on Gulf of Mexico”.
Connor Sheets, who is a journalist for AL.com, one of the south’s most read online and print publications, decided to check out Jade Helm 15 in action. As Sheets put it:
On its surface, this past week was much like any other summer week along Biloxi’s waterfront tourist strip. Visiting sunbathers and waders descended on the white-sand Mississippi beach in droves, returning to their hotels around dusk to change out of their swimsuits and head out on the town. The casinos offered the usual mix of gluttony and debauchery – unlimited crab leg buffets, free mixed drinks and row after row of mindless slot machines.
But a whole different scene was rumored to be unfolding two miles northeast of the towering Hard Rock Café and Beau Rivage casino complexes, on the far eastern tip of the Gulf Coast peninsula on which Biloxi is built.
Over the past eight days, Jade Helm 15, a series of U.S. military training exercises taking place across multiple southern states from Texas to Mississippi this summer, was slated to descend on two abandoned buildings on the Biloxi Bay and a defunct elementary school further inland, to the west of the city’s downtown district.
AL.com sent two journalists to Biloxi this past week to watch for any activity related to the controversial operation at the center of an expansive web of overlapping conspiracy theories. A picture of what Jade Helm looks like on the ground in the resort town emerged over the course of three days.
Jade Helm has been the subject of fascination and even obsession for many mostly online observers, but it has also driven the Texas governor to mobilize state troops to monitor the exercises and one man even allegedly shot at soldiers participating in training drills in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
City Councilman David Fayard said that though he also had not seen or heard about any special forces-style activities taking place in town, he did notice an uptick in military movements this past week.
“To be truthful with you, I’ve been seeing a few more helicopters than usual, but that’s about it,” he said Tuesday via phone. “It’s not unusual for us to have people training, it’s pretty much normal routine.”
Five months ago, the Biloxi city council passed a resolution granting the military’s SOCOM Ground and Air Special Operations Forces permission to use the shuttered Margaritaville casino, an empty warehouse and the closed Beauvoir Elementary School for training purposes as part of Jade Helm.
The resolution identifies a range of activities that the trainees were permitted to carry out on the grounds of the three buildings, from “live sniper fire” and “explosive breaching” to “simulated surface to air engagements, pyrotechnics and simulated explosions.” It goes on to state that the military would hire contractors to provide “realistic scenario based training for notional enemy forces with appropriate non-lethal weapon systems, ie PKM, AK-47s, RPGs, etc.” and that it was allowed to engage in the activities between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8.
On March 31, Biloxi’s then-acting Mayor, Kenny Glavan, wrote a letter to a special forces commander that outlined his support for the Jade Helm plans for Biloxi.
“I further understand and appreciate that this training has been coordinated through and approved by local law enforcement agencies and all affected property owners,” he wrote. “The City of Biloxi, Mississippi is pleased to support United States Special Operations Forces as they develop the techniques and tactics necessary to defend United States interests around the globe.”
On July 13, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office confirmed one final time that Jade Helm was real, and that it was about to begin.
“Members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command will train with other U.S Armed Forces units July 15 through Sept. 15 in a multi-state exercise,” the office wrote in an official statement. “The exercise will take place across seven states and primarily occur on pre-coordinated private property and military installations.”
As news spread in recent months that special operations forces would be engaging in simulated warfare on American soil, thousands of conspiracy theorists, and civil liberties hawks whipped themselves into a frenzy over the intentions behind Jade Helm 15.
For months before Jade Helm was scheduled to begin, fringe radio host Alex Jones wrote extensively on his well-trafficked website InfoWars.com about the operation, stoking fears about Jade Helm by describing it as a “decades-old plan for martial law” and a “PsyOp to acclimate the American people to troops on the street and merge federal agencies with local law enforcement.”
Jade Helm mania
As the July start date of the first phase of Jade Helm drew near – and Army Special Operations Command announced that journalists were officially barred from covering it – a loose national network of concerned individuals joined a hastily created group called Counter Jade Helm, aimed at drawing attention to the operation and keeping an eye on the specialized soldiers participating in it.
In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, even requested that the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas State Guard monitor the Jade Helm actions expected to take place there.
As Jade Helm has gotten underway, mainstream media outlets have reported on troop movements, small-scale training exercises and other activities related to the operation. Mostly, Jade Helm’s visible footprint has been small, according to news accounts.
The Army sought to assuage the publics’ fears in its July statement, saying that “[t]he public can expect little disruption in their day-to-day activities since much of the exercise will be conducted in remote areas.”
But a small subset of the population remained unconvinced that Jade Helm did not represent a ploy to take their guns, impose martial law or otherwise oppress Americans. Since July 15, there have been a number of incidents in which Americans seemingly gripped with paranoia over Jade Helm have acted out against members of the military during training exercises.
Most recently, a Mississippi man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly shooting at troops engaged in a training exercise this week near Camp Shelby, located about 10 miles south of Hattiesburg, according to Fox News.
The man, Alfred Baria Sr., later said that the sounds people heard during the two incidents in which he allegedly fired at the soldiers were actually caused by his pickup truck backfiring, but he is still being charged with multiple counts of disturbing the peace and being a felon in possession of a gun.
On the ground in Biloxi
The scene in Biloxi was remarkably calm last weekend, even at the three buildings the City Council had authorized the military to use.
Beauvoir Elementary School was desolate, sun-drenched and slightly overgrown. The occasional maintenance employee stopped by, and a local police officer sat outside the building in a cruiser for a period Sunday night, but beyond that there seemed to be absolutely no action there between last Saturday and Monday, and certainly no military presence.
The abandoned warehouse was quiet, particularly at night, when unseen frogs bleated a greeting to the rare truck that rolled past its rusting, wraparound barbed-wire fence and coyotes wandered the grounds in search of food. The chop of the Biloxi Bay lapped at a landing area at the far end of the building in what looked like the perfect place to stage a small-scale, Normandy-style beach assault simulation.
The Margaritaville casino, which closed down last year due to a swirl of negative forces – particularly its out-of-the-way location far from Biloxi’s city center and the fact that it did not offer hotel rooms – was empty as well. But contractors for the company that owns the building sat one at a time on the property at all hours, texting and watching Netflix on their mobile devices as they kept a monotonous watch over the hulking structure that too is perched on the edge of the bay.
Jade Helm did not have a visible presence in Biloxi last weekend, but the contractors who were posted at Margaritaville on Aug. 2 and 3 said that they believe it is still going to happen sometime this month.
“All I know is the last time I spoke to someone that actually worked here about three weeks ago, he said sometime in August that the SEALs are supposed to do, like, an amphibious assault on the building,” one of the contractors told AL.com on Aug. 2 outside the casino.
The ordinance passed by the City Council only authorized the military to engage in Jade Helm training exercises between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8. But contractors at the site were under the impression activities could happen later in the month.
Fayard said that he had not heard of the military using Biloxi commercial buildings – even shuttered ones – for training purposes until the Jade Helm resolution came before the City Council.
“I have never seen them do that before,” he said. “But other than seeing a few more helicopters around than usual, to be honest with you I haven’t really been paying much attention to it.”
Back To Jade Helm Elsewhere
It’s a toss up when it comes to Jade Helm 15, it seems. The exercise has another month left. MoneyMorning.com sums it up the best:
Other than the cell phone disruption that first day, nothing substantial has since been reported. One reason for this exceptional quietude likely has to do with the fact that no journalists are allowed to observe exercises or even to talk to troops. This ordinance only served to further worry the public.
While we don’t know precisely what activities are going on behind Jade Helm 15’s barricades, outside the barricades is a different story…
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