From July 15th to September 15th, over a thousand armed American soldiers will maneuver through the Southwest United States as part of a vast operation with a single motto: "Master the Human Domain." Internet conspiracy theorists wait their whole lives for a moment this rich.

"JADE HELM 15" is a real military exercise cooked up by the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). It's also, if you ask a certain cohort of internet dweller who thinks each day will be the one when Barack Obama personally carries away his guns, the first phase of martial law in America. When I was first forwarded this slideshow—apparently a preliminary briefing on Jade Helm marked marked "For Official Use Only"—the conspiracy theorists were the only ones talking about the exercise.

AllNewsPipeLine.com considers this the beginning of the end:

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With September of 2015 consistently being warned of as a potential timeframe for the global collapse and World War 3, are these exercises more proof that something huge will happen near that date or just more ongoing drills as posse comitatus no longer applies upon American soil and America turns into a 'no longer' invisible dictatorship?

The site adds that FEMA-operated "death domes" are already being erected across Texas to prepare for civilian abductions during Jade Helm. InfoWars, the New York Times of right-wing paranoia, notes that "Although nations can benefit from joint drills, the exercises also serve to blur the lines of national sovereignty, slowly leading to the formation of a North American Union."

FreedomOutpost.com is equally suspicious:

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For years now, our veterans, Christians, patriots, gun owners, constitutionalists, pro-life advocates, small government supporters, small businesses, real journalists in the press, anti-corruption activists, anti-UN Agenda 21 advocates, anti-global warming supporters, anti-war patriots, anti-criminal immigration supporters, have all been targeted by this administration as enemies of the United States, even within government documents. Are we supposed to trust that they have pure intentions now?

Realizing that ignoring the paranoid will do nothing to quiet them, Army spokespeople are trying to ease everyone's nerves with some military boilerplate. From ArmyTimes.com:

The Army says Jade Helm is a real exercise and will take place in the Southwest, as the slides indicate. But USASOC spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria said that's the extent of the reports' accuracy.

"It's a training exercise. Just a regular training exercise," Lastoria said of Jade Helm, which USASOC documentation references as a training exercise in at least one previous year as well.

It's funny how even an extremely mundane denial sounds ominous coming from the Pentagon. Lastoria also spoke to Stars & Stripes:

"This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for Army Special Operations Forces because they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world on a moment's notice."

But you don't need to believe in FEMA death domes or an Islamofascist White House to find Jade Helm a little bit unsettling—even if it just a routine exercise meant to simulate a future Middle Eastern war zone inside America. One particular slide, which divides up the Southwest into "hostile" or "insurgent" pockets, has been the epicenter or message board frothing:

Another slide notes that Jade Helm participants will be blending in with locals wearing "civilian attire," while others will appear armed:

And this insignia, with that perfect blend of Microsoft Office '98 aesthetics and creeping fascism copy, isn't helping anything:

You can read the USASOC slideshow below if you'd like to start preparing now.


Contact the author at biddle@gawker.com.
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