The multi-state U.S. military training exercise dubbed “Jade Helm 15,” which has spawned myriad conspiracy theories and vexed public officials who struggled to allay the concerns of constituents, is finally here.
The “unconventional warfare” exercise is scheduled to begin Wednesday and run until Sept. 15. Training is planned for certain areas of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. California, Colorado and Nevada had originally been listed as areas where the training was to take place but have since been left out.
Conspiracy theory websites and InfoWars’ Alex Jones suggested that the operation could be a cover for the implementation of martial law. One site even alleged that troops were converting shuttered Wal-Mart stores into covert military bases. But the paranoia surrounding “Jade Helm 15” really became headline news in May, after enough concerned Texans convinced Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to take action to protect their civil liberties. Abbott requested that the State Guard monitor the training exercise, asserting that the move was only meant to facilitate communication between the military and residents of the Lone Star state.
Outlandish theories about “Jade Helm 15” are likely to continue to proliferate in the coming weeks. As The Washington Post reported, the military has decided not to allow media to observe the exercise, which curtails efforts to better explain the training exercise to the public. In that information vacuum, a citizen surveillance group calling itself “Counter Jade Helm” has sprung up with plans to monitor the operation for any potential funny business.
Now that the start of the exercise is upon us, here is what fringe blogs say Americans can expect, from Russian interference in southern states to retaliation against Christian opponents of the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
Next News Network, a conspiracy theory website co-founded by Gary Franchi, the former chair of Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) super PAC, noted that the start of the “Jade Helm 15” exercise coincides with a Druidic cremation ceremony performed by a secret society of America’s Republican elite.
The Bohemian Club, which has counted former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan among its members, meets every year in early July at a Redwood grove in Monte Rio, California. There, the club performs a ritual known as the “Cremation of the Care” where members burn a coffin effigy in a show of forest-worship.
Next News Network stated in a YouTube video that July 15 not only marks the start of “Jade Helm 15,” but also the cremation ritual. The outlet speculated that the ritual “actually represents the physical manifestation of the cremation of America.”
The same Next News Network “report” claimed that the military training exercise already began quietly in the form of a U.S. military exercise in Europe. The outlet called the exercise, which was carried out with other NATO allies, a “show of force on public display unlike anything we’ve seen since World War II.” It also speculated that the training may be in preparation to attack Russia or China.
The military shot those theories down, however. But then again, of course they would. Spokeswoman Suzanne Nagel told The Las Vegas Review-Journal last week that “the reports from Next News Network are not accurate. There is no connection between the two exercises.”
Right Wing Watch recently flagged a segment from an outlet called TruNews Christian radio in which host Rick Wiles said he believed that the government would go as far as deploying an “EMP” attack — an electromagnetic pulse generated by the detonation of a nuclear weapon in orbit — against states that resist the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“Washington has no intentions of giving up any power to any state,” Wiles said. “And certainly not to the common citizens.”
“That may explain why Jade Helm 15 is taking place in the South and the Western states this summer, because they know that people are starting to rise up and saying ‘something’s got to happen,’” he added. “Either we take a stand, or it’s over. It’s finished.”
Casey Michel recently detailed in Politico Magazine how the Russian state propaganda machine gives support to and amplifies the message of that fringe of Texans who still want the state to secede from the United States. Conspiracy theory website All News Pipeline ran with that report to suggest that “Jade Helm 15” actually may be a cover to aid Russia in seizing southern states.
“Is JH15 about PREVENTING Russia from assisting ‘secessionists’ across America or is it more about HELPING the Russians return that land to Mexico?” the outlet wondered.
The Politico Magazine report also noted that the speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov, warned this spring that Russia would “resume debate on the legal status of the territories annexed by the United States, which are now the U.S. states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming” if the U.S. ramped up its transfer of weapons to Ukraine.
“Is it JUST a coincidence that the states named by Abdurakhmanov line up almost PERFECTLY with the map above of JH15 as well as the map of the Atzlan [sic] territories that Mexico has demanded be returned to them?” All News Pipeline asked. “In fact, only Wyoming is missing.”
TPM illustration by Christine Frapech. Images via YouTube.
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.