The Pentagon had to go public this week with an unusual admission that, no, it was not in fact secretly planning to take over the state of Texas.
It was the result of a building controversy inside the Lone Star State leading up to a series of planned military training exercises dubbed "Jade Helm 15."
But now, with several politicians and even actor Chuck Norris jumping in the fray, it’s raising more questions about the exercise, and what is fueling the theories surrounding it.
What exactly is Jade Helm 15?
According to the U.S. Army website, Jade Helm is a multi-state training exercise taking place July 15 through Sept. 15 with members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command and service members from the military’s four branches. While the exercise is taking place across seven states, the Special Operations Forces are only training in five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
But the exercises will take place primarily in Texas, according to the unclassified request for training from Special Operations Command, because it requires large areas of undeveloped land as well as access to towns.
The U.S. military is consistently conducting training exercises inside the U.S., both in remote areas and sometimes inside populated cities. And it’s certainly not the first military exercise to occur inside the state of Texas.
So what, if anything, sets Jade Helm 15 apart?
In a March 24 press release from the Army, Jade Helm 15 was described simply as a “routine training exercise to maintain a high level of readiness.” The reason given for picking out the particular states, including Texas, is because each possesses a “unique terrain” that soldiers might find themselves operating in overseas.
But also in the same press release, the Army specifically notes Jade Helm 15 being separate from the pack, noting it for its “size and scope.” It led to several citizens raising their eyebrows over the idea of a surge of federal presence inside the state.
What’s the theory behind Jade Helm 15?
After an unclassified military Power Point presentation was posted online describing the exercise, various right-wing and libertarian-leaning bloggers noticed what they considered to be an alarming red flag.
Of the seven states included in the exercise, Texas and Utah were labeled according to a map’s legend as “hostile” territories (as well as a southern pocket of California.) It prompted a barrage of posts from sites claiming it as proof the government was initiating the first stages of martial law inside the U.S.
Talk-show host and runner of the often conspiracy theory-laden website InfoWars.Com Alex Jones ran multiple stories speculating the map was a sign the feds were “preparing to invade Texas.”