Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories

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The Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories were based on the Jade Helm 15 United States military training exercise which took place in multiple U.S. states between July 15 and September 15, 2015. The exercise, which involved 1,200 personnel from four of the five branches of the U.S. military, was designed to train soldiers in skills needed to operate in overseas combat environments, including maneuvering through civilian populations.[1] The announcements of these training exercises raised concerns and generated conspiracy theories that the exercise was a hostile military takeover.[2]

Exercise details[edit]

The joint exercise in realistic military training (RMT) known as Jade Helm 15[3] was sponsored by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM)[4] and involved the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) with other U.S. Military units in multiple states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Utah. Its stated purpose was "to improve the Special Operations Forces' capability as part of the National Security Strategy".[4] It was coordinated and led from Eglin Air Force Base, an Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) base in northwest Florida.[5]

Approximately 1,200 troops were engaged over the course of the exercise.[5] They were "mainly Army Green Berets, but also a small group of Navy SEALS and Air Force special operations troops as well as conventional Army infantry",[6] although the initial request to state officials from USSOCOM listed elements of the United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), Marine expeditionary units, the 82nd Airborne Division, and "interagency partners" as participants.[4] Troops engaging in the exercise assumed the roles of either occupying or resistance forces.[7] Most locations were in sparsely populated arid regions near small towns. Some participants wore civilian attire and drove civilian vehicles.[8] Maps of the exercise included areas of the United States such as Colorado and California where no actual operations were planned.[9] The cities in Texas include Bastrop, Smithville, Big Spring, Caddo Lake, Caldwell, Christoval, College Station, Dell City, Eldorado, Goliad, Junction, Leakey, Menard, Mountain Home, San Angelo, San Antonio, and Victoria.[10]

USSOCOM claimed that "the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart" from previous training exercises,[11] such as Derna Bridge or Robin Sage.[9] In Bastrop, 60 soldiers took part, including the presence of two Humvee vehicles and a "water buffalo" water tank. Private land offered by residents would be used for the exercise, though he noted that they would not be paid for the land or receive a tax break of any kind.[12] Lastoria also claimed that $150,000 in revenue would be brought to the area because of food, fuel, and shopping.

Journalists were not allowed to embed in the operation, but the Texas State Guard and the civilian group Counter Jade Helm monitored the exercise.[13][14][15]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

U.S. Army Special Operations Command map,[16][9] depicting the US military plans during the Jade Helm 15 exercise

The conspiracy theories seem to emanate from the map shown here from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command which divides the region into four colors, with two "hostile" states, two "permissive" states, two states leaning one way or the other, and California divided.[17] Jim Shea of the Hartford Courant wrote that the conspiracy theories included: a "psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing military forces on the streets" so that they do not realize when an invasion actually takes place; an international operation aimed to seize people's guns; recently closed Walmarts used by the military to "stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans"; and a military plan to "round up political dissidents" and "remove key political figures" who may be against the imposition of martial law.[18] Other theories have described Jade Helm 15 as a "secret plot" to impose martial law, confiscate firearms, invade Texas, and institute "total population control."[19]

The conspiracy theories also included concern about the name of the exercise, with the "jade" possibly referring to China,[20][21] or possibly an acronym for artificial intelligence developed by the U.S. military.[22] Conspiracy theorist and Texas radio host Alex Jones said that "helm" is an acronym for "Homeland Eradication of Local Militants".[19]

There was some tie-in between the Jade Helm 15 exercise and a resurgence of the FEMA camps conspiracy theory with the exercise raising fear that it was a dry run for forcing citizens into internment camps.[23] These fears were demonstrated to have been unfounded when the exercise was completed and no one was placed into a camp.[24]

Comet or asteroid impact[edit]

Some conspiracy theorists have connected the Jade Helm 15 military exercise with an apocalypse caused by a comet or asteroid striking the Earth.[25][26][27] The Jade Helm 15 military exercise had an ending date of September 15, 2015, which is the same month identified by some conspiracy theorists for the catastrophic impact of a comet or asteroid.[28][29][30]

The conspiracy theorists claim that Jade Helm 15 is a dress rehearsal for the imposition of martial law[26][31] which would be implemented in the event of a catastrophe of this level of severity. However, the NASA Near Earth Object Program publishes the Sentry Risk Table, which is a list that identifies such threats, and the list does not include any object with a high Torino Scale number (a measure of the severity of the threat) for 2015.[32] Also, a NASA spokesperson said, "NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth".[30][26] Some conspiracy theorists claimed that the object has been tracked for years.[33] They asserted that the object name is known but its published coordinates and orbit information are incorrect, and the threat is not publicly listed because of the belief that panic would ensue.[34] The apocalypse failed to happen on September 15, 2015.[35]


The Austin American-Statesman newspaper noted that after plans and maps of the exercise were made public, there was an "explosion of outrage on social media after the release of the map, which labeled Texas, Utah and the southern tip of California as 'hostile.'"[36] There was also speculation that shuttered Walmart stores would be used for "guerrilla-warfare staging areas and FEMA processing camps",[37] though this theory was debunked by the website Snopes.[38]

A survey of registered Republicans by Public Policy Polling in May 2015,[39] found that 32% thought that "the Government is trying to take over Texas", and that half of all Tea Party supporters are concerned with an imminent Texas invasion.[40]

Greg Capers, sheriff of San Jacinto County, published a letter in the Cleveland Advocate (of Cleveland, Texas), in response to numerous phone calls from citizens, in which he described "alternative news sources" that were spreading inaccurate information about the exercise, and encouraged citizens to "utilize legitimate mainstream news sources" for those interested in accurate information.[41]


On April 28, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation. "During the training operation, it is important that Texans know [that] their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed."[36][42]

On May 2, 2015, Texas senator Ted Cruz told the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention that he had "reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise."

We are assured [that] it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don't trust what it is saying.[43][44]

U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert said in a statement on May 5, 2015, that his "office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise" with concerns that the U.S. Army is preparing for "modern-day martial law". He alluded to a notorious remark made by Barack Obama, who claimed that Pennsylvanians were "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion":[45] "I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, 'cling to their guns and religion,' and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution". He asserted that "the map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states."[44][46][47]

In a November 2015 GQ interview, President Obama described Jade Helm as "his favorite conspiracy theory".[48]


All News Pipeline[49] broke Jade Helm to the world on March 13, 2015, five days before conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones, who began spreading the conspiracy theory on March 19, 2015, by saying on his radio program and on his website that the federal government was preparing to invade Texas.[50] "They're going to practice breaking into things and stuff. This is going to be hellish," Jones said. "Now this is just a cover for deploying the military on the streets ... This is an invasion ... in preparation for the financial collapse and maybe even Obama not leaving office."[50]

In reaction to the sentiment that the military exercises might in fact be movement against American citizens, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd wrote a column titled, "Abbott should counter, not cater to, Texans' crazy Jade Helm fears," noting that Abbott's "response to this nut-studded fruitcake of fear was unfortunate."[51] On April 29, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest addressed the concerns of critics in the regular press briefing, saying, "I have no idea what he's thinking," regarding Abbott's letter to the Texas Guard. "In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted."[52][53]

Comedian Jon Stewart addressed the debate around the exercises in a segment on The Daily Show on May 4 called "Fear and Absent Danger", noting that previous military exercises while Republican Rick Perry was governor did not raise similar concerns.[54][55]


A survey by Public Policy Polling between May 7 and May 10, 2015, found that 32% of 685 Republican primary voters believed "the government is trying to take over Texas", 40% believed "the government is not trying to take over Texas" and 28% were "unsure".[56][57]

Russian disinformation[edit]

Clint Watts and two others in the FBI began to notice Russian disinformation campaigns starting in April 2014.[58] Watts said that Russian-driven efforts to spread misinformation were involved with Jade Helm 15.[58] In 2017, Facebook shut down a page called "Heart of Texas" which was found to be associated with a Russian company promoting disinformation, including promoting the Jade Helm conspiracy.[59]

On May 3, 2018, The Texas Tribune reported that Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and NSA said that the "hysteria" surrounding the training exercise "was fueled by Russians wanting to dominate 'the information space.'"[60] Hayden said that Russian bots were used to spread misinformation.[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Toohey, Marty (September 23, 2016). "5 things you should know about Jade Helm 15". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  2. ^ Manny Fernandez (May 6, 2015). "Conspiracy Theories Over Jade Helm Training Exercise Get Some Traction in Texas". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  3. ^ The military has not defined "Jade Helm 15" for the public as of January 2016. The acronym JADE stands for "Joint Assistant for Deployment and Execution," "a knowledge-based mixed-initiative system that supports force deployment planning and management. JADE uses case-based and generative planning methods to support the development of large-scale, complex deployment plans in minimal time." Joint Assistant for Development and Execution (JADE), Abstract, p. 1. Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Request to Conduct Realistic Military Training (RMT) Jade Helm 15". United States Army Special Operations Command. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Lamothe, Dan (July 8, 2015). "Jade Helm 15, heavily scrutinized military exercise, to open without media access". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Starr, Barbara (May 4, 2015). "Pentagon claims it won't be taking over Texas". CNN. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  7. ^ Fernandez, Manny (July 15, 2015). "As Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Begins, Texans Keep Watch 'Just in Case'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2016. Local officials who have been briefed on the exercise say it is modeled after the French resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II. It calls for some military personnel to play the role of the occupiers and for others to work undetected as part of the resistance.
  8. ^ Manny Fernandez (July 15, 2015). "As Jade Helm 15 Military Exercise Begins, Texans Keep Watch 'Just in Case'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2015. ... some Jade Helm 15 participants "may conduct suspicious activities" as part of their training and others "will be wearing civilian attire and driving civilian vehicles."
  9. ^ a b c Lamothe, Dan (March 31, 2015). "Why Operation Jade Helm 15 is freaking out the Internet – and why it shouldn't be". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  10. ^ Baddour, Dylan (March 25, 2015). "Covert warfare coming to Texas sparks some fears of federal takeover". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  11. ^ USASOC News Service (March 24, 2015). "150324-03 Press Release: Exercise readies SOF for threats abroad". United States Army Special Operations Command. Archived from the original on October 15, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Beausoleil, Sophia (April 27, 2015). "Gov. Abbott directs Texas Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15 operations". KXAN.com. Archived from the original on September 22, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Jahner, Kyle (July 15, 2015). "Jade Helm 15: Controversial military exercise starts Wednesday". Army Times.
  14. ^ "Civilians Begin Shadowing 'Jade Helm' War Exercise in Texas". The New York Times (Associated Press). July 15, 2015.
  15. ^ Baddour, Dylan (July 13, 2015). "Texans organize 'Operation Counter Jade Helm' to keep an eye on the federal troops". Houston Chronicle.
  16. ^ Wofford, Taylor (May 5, 2015). "Jade Helm: The Conspiracy Theory That's Divided Texas Politicians". Newsweek.
  17. ^ "Operation Jade Helm 15: Military training exercise or martial law? Ask the Internet". Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2015. Archived from the original on May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  18. ^ Shea, Jim. "Thank You Texas and Good Luck with the Invasion". Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  19. ^ a b Fernadez, Manny (July 14, 2015). "In Texas, a Military Exercise Is Met by Some With Suspicion". The New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
  20. ^ Davidson, Amy (May 18, 2015). "Who Is Threatening Texas? – Unclear Dangers". The New Yorker.
  21. ^ Dale, Daniel (May 6, 2015). "Texas invasion? U.S. army fights 'Jade Helm' conspiracy theories". Toronto Star Newspapers.
  22. ^ Saal, Mark (July 18, 2015). "Jade Helm: What if conspiracy theorists finally got it right?". Standard-Examiner. Ogden Publishing Corporation. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  23. ^ Reinhard, Chelsea. "County Denounces Conspiracy Theories, Approves Jade Helm 15". sanangelolive.com. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  24. ^ Smith, Morgan (July 15, 2015). "In Bastrop, Jade Helm Begins With a Whimper". Texas Tribune. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
  25. ^ Tamblyn, Thomas (June 8, 2015). "Conspiracy Theorists Claim Massive 'Jade Helm' Military Exercise Is Preparation For The Apocalypse". The Huffington Post.
  26. ^ a b c Austin, Jon (June 8, 2015). "US military secretly preparing for asteroid that will wipe out mankind in September". Daily Express.
  27. ^ Dubuis, Anna (June 8, 2015). "America 'preparing for asteroid impact with massive army training exercise to stop apocalypse riots'". Daily Mirror.
  28. ^ "Asteroid Impact Apocalypse 2015: Mass Anxiety As Conspiracy Theorists Predict Catastrophe". The Inquisitr News. February 4, 2015.
  29. ^ Nelson, Sara C. (June 8, 2015). "Asteroid Apocalypse Spells End Of The World In September 2015". The Huffington Post.
  30. ^ a b Wells, Andy (June 8, 2015). "The World Is Going To End In September (Apparently)". Yahoo! News.
  31. ^ "2.5-Mile-Wide Comet Headed Toward Earth: Conspiracy Theorists Spread Doomsday Mass Hysteria". The Inquisitr News. May 1, 2015.
  32. ^ "Sentry Risk Table". NASA – Near Earth Object Program. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2015.
  33. ^ Vago, Mike (November 3, 2019). "In 2015, conspiracy nuts were convinced the U.S. was going to invade Texas". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  34. ^ Duclos, Susan (January 4, 2015). "E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event) Coming? Asteroid Warning, Govt Preps Underground Bases & "Extinction Protocol"". All News Pipeline.
  35. ^ cosbourn (September 15, 2015). "ISS Daily Summary Report – 09/15/15". NASA.
  36. ^ a b Walsh, Sean Collins (April 28, 2015). "Texas labeled as 'hostile' territory in Army's Jade Helm training". Austin American Statesman. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  37. ^ Goodwyn, Wade (May 2, 2015). "Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover". NPR. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  38. ^ Mikkelson, Barbara (April 23, 2015). "Walmartyrs to the Cause". Snopes.
  39. ^ "Poll Press release" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  40. ^ "Majority of likely GOP primary voters could believe Operation Jade Helm 15 is probably a federal invasion of Texas". Salon. May 14, 2015. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  41. ^ "Sheriff Capers issues letter to community regarding Operation Jade Helm". Cleveland Advocate. May 15, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  42. ^ Svitek, Patrick (April 30, 2015). "Abbott's Letter Elevates Jade Helm 15 Concerns". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
  43. ^ Weigel, David (May 2, 2015). "Ted Cruz Says He Has Asked the Pentagon for Answers on Jade Helm 15". Bloomberg Politics. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  44. ^ a b Knowles, David (May 6, 2015). "Worried about Operation Jade Helm? Texas Republicans Hear You". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  45. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (September 11, 2008). "Troubling Signs for Obama in Pennsylvania (Published 2008)". The New York Times.
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  48. ^ Matt Levin (November 19, 2015). "Obama picks 'Jade Helm' as his favorite conspiracy theory about his presidency". San Francisco Chronicle.
  49. ^ Stefan Stanford, 'Jade Helm 2015' 8-Week Summer Special Ops Exercises Prep For En Game and 'Master The Human Domain'. March 13, 2015
  50. ^ a b Viser, Matt (May 26, 2015). "Suspicion of US government reaches a new level in Texas". Boston Globe. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
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  53. ^ Thompson", Catherine (April 30, 2015). "White House On A Possible Military Takeover Of Texas: Um, No". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
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  56. ^ "Many GOP voters buy into 'Jade Helm' conspiracy theory". MSNBC. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  57. ^ ""Walker Leads Tightly Clustered GOP Field, Clinton Up Big Nationally", by Public Policy Polling" (PDF).
  58. ^ a b Green, J. J. (September 18, 2017). "Anatomy of a Russian attack: First signs of the Kremlin's attempt to influence the 2016 election". WTOP. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  59. ^ Michel, Casey (September 7, 2017). "How Russia Created the Most Popular Texas Secession Page on Facebook". Extra Newsfeed. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  60. ^ Pollock, Cassandra; Samuels, Alex (May 3, 2018). "Hysteria over Jade Helm exercise in Texas was fueled by Russians, former CIA director says". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  61. ^ Barragan, James (May 3, 2018). "Russians spread misinformation on Jade Helm military exercise in Texas, former CIA director says". Dallas News. Retrieved May 3, 2018.

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