In Texas, conspiracy theories have swirled that a two-month U.S. military exercise — named Jade Helm 15 — in seven states across America’s southwest might be an armed federal takeover of the Lone Star state in disguise.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter rebutted these claims with an emphatic “No,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Jade Helm 15 is the largest military training exercise ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The fears of some Texans were stoked when military maps to be used in the exercise were found to show Texas (as well as Utah and California) as “hostile” territory.
The resulting controversy prompted Governor Greg Abbott to request that the Texas State Guard monitor the exercise.
Actor Chuck Norris also chimed in, exhorting Texans to be vigilant: “It’s pretty sad and bad when major military ops are ordered in a large, fiery state like Texas and not even the governor or its senators know the specifics.”
Carter emphasized on Thursday that Pentagon officials had notified the state government of the relevant details: “We’re very open and up front about our training activities in the United States, and I should say that we’re very grateful for the support of communities around the United States.”