Jade Helm 2015 now looks to be the most monitored special forces exercise ever held.
I wrote about Jade Helm 15 for the first time back in March, and going by the continuing popularity of that 4-month-old post, the interest in this large-scale special ops exercise just keeps growing. I’ve posted additional reports since then: when Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Guard would monitor the exercise; when Army spokesmen briefed local populations well into west Texas as preparations for Jade Helm developed; and when cumulative information about the exercise suggested it could involve information warfare that might even impinge on the innocent cell phone activity of local citizens.
I’ll reiterate up front, once more, my bottom lines on the exercise.
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1. It’s not an invasion of Texas (or any other state), nor will it have anything to do with Posse Comitatus or the confiscation of firearms.
2. It’s an exercise in which the participants will practice “unconventional warfare.” Unconventional warfare is one of the disciplines of irregular warfare, which is the province of special operations forces. Unconventional warfare is about supporting insurgencies in foreign countries where the national government is hostile to our forces’ presence. For reference, think of supporting the resistance movements in German-occupied Europe during World War II. Other examples might include the Afghan resistance during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, or the Nicaraguan contras.
3. A detailed understanding of the exercise motto, “Master the Human Domain,” indicates that Jade Helm is likely to feature collection against the cell phone and social media activities of people in the exercise vicinity.
For my money, that’s what Greg Abbott is in the best position to focus on. What collection will federal agencies be doing against microwave cell towers in Texas during Jade Helm? It’s a multi-agency exercise; the surveillance capabilities of the FBI and Homeland Security will be in play as well as the military’s.
4. The long-term concern about an exercise like this is that it would condition the American people to the presence of federal soldiers, running around on our streets and even private land for mysterious and undeclared purposes. This is a pattern we shouldn’t get used to. No training goal justifies doing things exactly this way, and only this way. Better to spend money to simulate conditions realistically, on a federal reserve somewhere, than open doors to a dangerous complacency in the people.
As other websites have noted, a volunteer “Counter-Jade Helm” group formed back in April to prepare for broad-scale monitoring of the exercise activities in each of the states where there will be a live presence. (See map.) The Houston Chronicle put out a report Friday afternoon on the final preparations being made by the Texas chapters of this group, and news of it is blowing up on the web.
I was able to get to the Counter-Jade Helm Facebook page a few minutes ago. But the group’s central website, counterjadehelm.info, was inaccessible during my attempts in the last two hours. According to the pinned post from this morning at Facebook, the website came under cyber-attack after online media began relaying the report from the Chronicle.
I was able to access a cached version of the counterjadehelm.info page. Obviously, links from that snapshot won’t work (including the “create an account” button), until the website is back up. But if you haven’t visited the page yet, you’ll know how to find it.
The Counter-Jade Helm volunteers are looking for additional reconnaissance scouts who are willing to make reports about activity they think is Jade Helm-related. As you can see in Figure 1, the website has sections for the states where there will be a live presence (most of them are headquarters rather than a field-deployed special-ops presence). The section on “SALUTE” reports has formatting and data information that will help volunteers write tactical reports.
Inadvertently helping the exercise’s training objective?
At one of the Facebook pages created in April, you can find a list of hashtags, which at least some volunteer monitors will be using on social media: #JadeHelm15 #JadeHelm #III #ThreePercent #Militias #AnonVoxPopuli#Anonymous
This highlights the point that organizing citizens to monitor Jade Helm creates an ideal condition for the exercise. It means a lot of people will be in the areas where special forces will be inserted, communicating with each other and making reports. If info is flying around social media with hashtags on it, information monitors and intel analysts for the exercise will have a treasure trove to dig through. I also imagine exercise participants have already established accounts at the counterjadehelm.info website.
And that’s a thought-provoking reminder of what our world looks like today. There’s no putting this genie back in the bottle; the information age is here to stay, and so is exploitation of it by agencies of the government. But public policy has lagged far behind technology, in terms of protecting the people against persistent surveillance (and, for that matter, against plans for manipulation).
Jade Helm and Counter-Jade Helm present a major opportunity for citizens to appreciate both sides of that equation. I think that’s a good thing, on balance, and I applaud the volunteers for their initiative. We need more attention from the public on the issue of government exploiting our communications and infosphere footprints – and it’s salutary for government to be reminded that it’s not a shepherd of a statistically-defined mass of sheep. Government is paid staff for an alert, engaged citizenry: a citizenry that makes its own decisions on what to get concerned about.
The exercise formally kicks off on the 15th. Media won’t be allowed to observe the exercise start. But the Eyes of Texas will be upon Jade Helm. Everybody be safe out there.