A U.S. military training drill program has sparked distrust amongst residents of the states in which it is set to take part, as a multi-state civil surveillance operation will take place at the same time, aiming to keep tabs on federal troop activities while in public space.
Nicknamed “Operation Jade Helm”, the exercise program which is set to be held in multiple Southern and Western states – including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah – has garnered a large amount of controversy as conspiracy theorists spread rumors of martial law and and possible attacks against civilian population. The operation will include about 1,200 troops, members of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), mostly Army Green Berets but also including Navy Seals and Air Force drills.
The widespread concern and distrust regarding it has also prompted Texas Governor Greg Abbott to order the State Guard to monitor the activities of federal troops, in order to quell any civilian speculation. However, a volunteer civilian surveillance operation will also take place concomitantly.
The civilian operation, named “Counter Jade Helm”, will keep an eye on federal military activities and also relate them to the public, making it the most viable source of information regarding the drills as media is prohibited from attending them. The effort is organized throughout all of the states involved and is coordinated from Arizona by a former Marine named Pete Lanteri, who also runs the effort’s Facebook page, website and forum.
44 year old Lanteri is set to receive and catalogue all civilian efforts at his home, including reports about activities of the federal troops while outside of restricted military space. He has emphasized the fact that the operation is only meant to observe what the military does while on public property, insisting that it will not spy on military bases.
He also stated that the volunteer force numbers about 200 people, ranging from civilians to former law enforcement or military agents. The group will also respect guidelines which forbid the use of camouflage or possession of any kind of weapons, so as not to be confused with any type of radical groups.
The ex-marine has stressed the fact that his volunteer groups do not include conspiracy theorists, as he himself does not believe the operation to be the beginning of a radical military takeover. However, he does think that the military is “up to something” and wishes to relay information about the drills to the public.
USSOCOM has not offered any direct response to the issue of civilian surveillance, but released a statement which guarantees the fact that the drill will not intervene with citizen lives, nor violate any of their constitutional rights.
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