Jade Helm 15, the controversial Special Operations exercise that spawned a wave of conspiracy theories about a government takeover, will open next week without any media allowed to observe it, a military spokesman said.
Embedded reporters won’t be permitted at any point during the exercise, in which military officials say that secretive Special Operations troops will maneuver through private and publicly owned land in several southern states. Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, said his organization is considering allowing a small number of journalists to view selected portions of the exercise later this summer, but nothing is finalized.
“All requests from the media for interviews and coverage of U.S. Army Special Operations Command personnel, organizations and events are assessed for feasibility and granted when and where possible,” Lastoria said in a statement released Wednesday to The Washington Post. “We are dedicated to communicating with the public, while balancing that against the application of operations security and other factors.”
The exercise is scheduled for July 15 through September 15 and is expected to include more than 1,200 troops. Army Special Operations Command announced the exercise in March, saying its size and scope would set it apart from most training exercises. For months, some protesters have said Jade Helm is setting the stage for future martial law. Those fears have been mocked by comedians such as Jon Stewart and others, and the U.S. military has tried to reassure people about the exercise.
The Army says the size and scope of Jade Helm 15, a Special Operations exercise that begins in July, set it apart from other training exercises. Also setting it apart: The widespread conspiracy theories that the U.S. is preparing to hatch martial law.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, called in April for the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercise, drawing a new wave of attention to Jade Helm and criticism from people who said he was fanning the hysteria. He defended the decision, saying it would improve communication between Special Operations forces and civilians in Texas.
The Washington Post has several times requested access to observe the exercise, making the case to the military that first-hand media coverage would help explain the mission. Lastoria said it is not possible to allow a journalist to travel with Special Operations forces in the field, citing the isolated nature of the mission and the need to protect the identity of the forces involved.
More at The Washington Post
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