” Concerned citizens confronted county and military officials Monday in Texas over the planned Jade Helm 15 training exercise that has ignited fears of a military takeover.
Elite forces from all four branches of the military will take part in the July 15-Sept. 15 operation in seven states across the southwest, where role players will stand in for hostile and less-hostile forces.
Residents packed the Bastrop County Commission, where a U.S. Army spokesman answered questions while an overflow crowd watched from downstairs on closed-circuit television.
Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria tried to assure the crowd that no intelligence would be gathered on non-participants, no property would be confiscated, and no psychological operations would be conducted.
Participants were torn between their respect for the military and their suspicion of the Obama administration, and they frequently expressed concern that they had not been notified about the exercise until conspiracy theories began circulating on social media.
The recent closing of five Walmart stores sparked fears that those stores would be converted into detention centers or link to underground tunnels to transport troops.”