Seeing is believing.
Or so the saying goes.
As conspiracy theories have grown around the military training exercise known as “Jade Helm 15,” so have instances of visual “proof.”
From footage of training drills to video of military vehicles being transported, the supposed visual documentation has added fuel to the theories that Jade Helm 15 is in fact a covert military operation to take over parts of the U.S. and impose martial law. (The military has defined this operation as an attempt to simulate overseas terrains and better equip personnel for international combat.)
Below are five of the craziest instances in which theorists have offered “proof” of the impending military takeover.
Troop Movement (Ontario, Calif.)
National Guard troops were reportedly filmed on April 11 moving through the streets of Ontario, Calif. The footage was posted to YouTube with the title “Jade helm ? National guard in Ontario California.” The troopers were shown marching and chanting in the video and were followed down the street by a military truck. InfoWars, one of the biggest perpetrators of the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories, included this video in an article titled “18 VIDEOS OF JADE HELM VEHICLE MOVEMENT, TROOPS, ETC.” The site described the events in the video as the “National Guard Patroling (sic)” the streets of the southern California town. While California was initially included in the Jade Helm 15 program, the latest plans for the operation show that it is no longer hosting exercises.
Training Exercises (Yuma, Ariz.)
Video of the training exercises, which reportedly took place on April 18 in Yuma, Ariz., was described by the conspiracy website InfoWars as “alarming” evidence of the impending military takeover. The exercise was described by the YouTube poster as part of “standardized tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness.” However, InfoWars described the drill as practice for “subduing, arresting and incarcerating irate citizens during a martial law-style scenario.” The website said the “Marines will undoubtedly claim that these exercises are to prepare for overseas combat and occupation missions.” However, InfoWars said that “U.S. Army manuals have made it clear that such operations also apply to the Continental United States (CONUS), and will be used against American citizens during a national emergency.” Many of the conspiracy theories speculate that the training exercises will involve integration of troops into civilian society in an attempt to launch a subtle takeover and that practicing these tactics in plain view is meant to ease civilians.
Military Equipment at Shuttered Wal-Mart (Clinton, Mo.)
Images posted to Facebook by The Clinton Daily Democrat were videoed and posted to YouTube. The photos show military personnel on April 20 in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Clinton, Mo. According to the post, an “explosive sniffing dog ‘hit’” on something inside the store, prompting an evacuation. An explosives team from the Whiteman Air Force Base reportedly responded to the situation. This incident comes after conspiracy theories have suggested that shuttered Wal-Marts in other parts of the country are to be used as bases for military personnel during the impending takeover — “odd” timing, according to the user who posted the video to YouTube. Wal-Mart balked at the theory on May 4 in an email to TPM. “There’s no truth to the rumors,” Wal-Mart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez said.
Transport of MRAPs (Oroville, Calif.)
This footage of a train loaded with MRAPs was reportedly captured on April 22. The train was said to be moving east out of Oroville, Calif. with its military cargo. Each car on the train carried two MRAPs and the person who provided the footage reportedly described what he saw: “the railroad, just as far as your eyes could see in both directions, stacked with military equipment.” The video was titled: “JADE HELM UPDATE: HUGE LINE OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT ON TRAIN IN CALIFORNIA” and was posted by YouTube user DAHBOO777, a frequent poster of Jade-Helm-15-related videos. There appeared to be no evidence the equipment was related to the training exercises.
Transport of United Nations Ambulances (Georgia I-16)
Video of United Nations medical vehicles being transported on the I-16 highway in Georgia was reportedly captured by a motorist and posted to YouTube. The video description said the footage was taken near “Hunter Army Airfield and Ft. Stewart” on April 26. The vehicles, said to be either ambulances or armored personnel carriers, were described as being different from standard ambulances, which have “2 doors and steps and running boards and side lights.” The user who posted the video reported having 25 years of experience working in private security and knowing what ambulances looked like. The user also disputed claims that these vehicles were destined for oversees locales as they didn’t have “red crescents.” While the user who’d posted the video made no mention of Jade Helm 15, it was included in InfoWars’ list. The video of United Nations vehicles comes after one theorist speculated that the program’s true purpose was hidden in its name: “Jade Helm. Jade is blue. Helm is German for helmet. Blue Helmet. UN blue helmets?”
Correction: In the original version of this post, we mistakenly identified the MRAPs on the train in Oroville, Calif., as Humvees. We regret the error.