Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Underway In Texas The 7-state, months-long U.S. military exercise that conspiracy theorists believe is a cover for a military takeover began this week. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with correspondent Wade Goodwyn about the exercise.
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Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Underway In Texas

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Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Underway In Texas

Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Underway In Texas

Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Underway In Texas

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The 7-state, months-long U.S. military exercise that conspiracy theorists believe is a cover for a military takeover began this week. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with correspondent Wade Goodwyn about the exercise.

ARUN RATH, HOST:

The day Texas conspiracy theorists have been dreading has come. Jade Helm 15 is a seven-state, two-month-long military exercise that some people believe is a cover for a military takeover. To ease concerns, Texas governor Greg Abbott even announced the state guard would be monitoring the exercise. And they won't be alone. On Wednesday when Jade Helm 15 kicked off, Texas Public Radio spoke with Eric Johnston, a retired sheriff's deputy who's with the group Counter Jade Helm. And they've been keeping an eye on things.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ERIC JOHNSTON: I did have personnel on both sides of Camp Swift looking for any vehicular movement, any troop movement. And from about 7:15 this morning, there has been no movement off of the base. Are they going to hunker down for two weeks and wait for us to go away? I don't think that's the case. I think they'll proceed with their actions. They're just going to proceed on their own timeline.

RATH: Our very own Wade Goodwyn has also been keeping an eye on things. Hi, Wade.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: Hello.

RATH: So Wade, the military has been conducting large training exercises on home soil since before the Civil War. Why is this one different?

GOODWYN: A specific reason has to do with a website called Infowars. Infowars is owned by Alex Jones. It's a - he's a popular radio talk-show host. And somebody had come across this Jade Helm 15 training map, and Jones widely promulgated the idea that the map was, in fact, part of a plan for a military takeover, starting, of course, with Texas. We're always about ourselves in Texas.

RATH: So after this military takeover would take place, what do the theorists think is going to happen?

GOODWYN: It sounds as if there was one complete narrative from the start. But that's not the way it happened. First, there was the map, which kind of started off the conspiracy. Then came the gun confiscation element. Then somebody pretty creative came up with the part that various empty big-box storefronts - Walmart was one of them - were going to be turned into military staging areas and detention processing centers. Then there was a Texas highway patrolman who said a friend of his had seen a railroad car that had been outfitted with iron shackles - a whole train of them. So that became the way the resistors were going to be transported - shackled in car trains like World War II. The Jade Helm 15 theory has, over time, been a communal work of art, and well done.

RATH: Well, Jade Helm 15 is now underway. So what's happening in Texas?

GOODWYN: Well, the Navy SEALS are using Texas voter ID to start rounding up Republican gun owners. No, I'm kidding. I'm kidding.

RATH: (Laughter).

GOODWYN: It's all quiet on the Western front. The U.S. military is out there in the blistering Texas heat - God help them - training their best men and women for combat overseas. One in Texas woman wrote to the newspaper on Thursday and said, if we do see one of these soldiers, sailors or Marines, we should give them a sandwich and a Dr Pepper.

RATH: (Laughter).

GOODWYN: Now, there's the Texas I know. Serve them boys and girls some brisket.

RATH: So what about the military commanders who are actually in charge of Jade Helm 15? What are they making of all of this?

GOODWYN: It's hard to know what they're thinking. I think I could guess. Remember, you're talking about a lot of special forces commanders who've never had a reputation for suffering fools gladly. But publicly, they've been very diplomatic. I can imagine the military's communications staff replying internally over and over, no, we're not going to say that. They've not used the words Texas morons a single time, and for that, you've got to take your cowboy hats off - very professional.

RATH: NPR's Wade Goodwyn. Wade, thanks so much.

GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.

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