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Jade helm is scaring the locals

In an effort to ease public concerns, the Curry County Commission received a U.S. Army briefing Tuesday regarding the upcoming Jade Helm training exercise and its inclusion of Cannon Air Force Base.

Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a public information officer for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said Jade Helm was a realistic military training exercise that would take place July 15 to September 15 in portions of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Lastoria said the primary activity would take place in Texas due to the state’s population of veterans willing to donate use of their land for exercises — which include no live ammo or pyrotechnics, and are done in areas with quick access to area hospitals in case something goes wrong.

“We take our (personnel) out, we put them in an unfamiliar environment,” Lastoria said. “We want to see how they perform away from the installation, away from normal support mechanisms. We want them to sweat so they bleed less in combat.”

Train load of military trucks

The approximate 1,200 personnel will be primarily U.S. Army Special Operations Command, with SOC units from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps included. In general, the property used isn’t disclosed, though the owner of the property is free to divulge any information.

Though the Texas exercises primarily take place on private land, Lastoria noted several times during a 30-minute telephone briefing that local training would take place only on CAFB property.

Depending on the amount of personnel who train in an area, Lastoria said, the economic impact to a community can be between $5,000 and $150,000 over the course of a few days.

The exercises would normally fall under Level I and Level II designation, meaning they don’t require Congressional authorization. However, due to the abnormal public attention, Jade Helm exercises were elevated to Level III and Congress was addressed.

army trucks on a train jade helm www.locksnews.com

Lastoria said many of the concerns raised by citizens were the products of people believing a theory and then interpreting unrelated events to fit the narrative. He specifically mentioned people pointing out previously existing flight patterns or unrelated training exercises by National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves that are traditionally scheduled following the end of a school year.

“It has nothing to do with martial law,” Lastoria said. “It has nothing to do with closures of (nearby) Walmarts, things of that nature.”

Additionally, Lastoria said when many members of Congress weren’t versed in the Jade Helm exercises, it was used by critics to further the secrecy narrative. However, he said that was more indicative of the fact that “not every Congressman sits on every panel.”

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said he requested the briefing not for those reasons, but because area ranchers had difficulty with similar training exercises that took place in the county about 30 years ago. Otherwise, he considered military training to be commonplace.

“I can sit on my front porch,” Bostwick said, “and hear them training on a daily basis at the Melrose Bombing Range.”

Lastoria acknowledged past training exercises could have been more disruptive than originally promised, but that the process has improved since the 1980s. In response to a question from Bostwick, Lastoria said area training would take place only on the base, and the Melrose range would not be used.

The three other commissioners in attendance — Chet Spear, Ben McDaniel and Tim Ashley — had no other questions, other than McDaniel asking for a reiteration the exercise would only take place on base. McDaniel and Ashley each said they had prepared questions, all of which were answered during the briefing.

“This community fully supports the military,” Ashley said, “and we thank you for your service.




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