Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the U.S. Army's Operation Jade Helm 15, a special warfare exercise that is slated to begin in July and continue through September, Breitbart reported
On Tuesday, Abbott sent a letter to Maj. Gen. Gerald "Jake" Betty, commander of the Texas State Guard, giving it responsibility for monitoring the U.S. military operation
and reporting back to the governor during the exercise.
The State Guard
– which includes military police and maritime, engineering, aviation and medical units – is unique to the Lone Star State. The group, which traces its history back to the early 19th century, is used during disaster situations and is regarded as an all-volunteer backup to the National Guard.
Noting the state's "long history of supporting military forces," Abbott, a Republican, said he is making the move to ensure that Texans "know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed."
The action follows a prolonged debate that has been taking place on the Internet, where Jade Helm 15 critics have expressed concern that the training exercise is being conducted for objectionable purposes such as declaring martial law in some southwestern states; using the military to confiscate firearms; bringing in Islamic soldiers or U.N. troops to confiscate guns and put those who resist into internment camps maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Fears about the exercise have been stoked by Alex Jones
, an Austin-based radio host and conspiracy theorist.
In the past, Jones has attracted considerable attention for his campaign to deport now former CNN host Piers Morgan and for his hypothetical suggestions that the government was behind 9/11.
According to Breitbart, some in Texas's mainstream media have appeared to lump Abbott in with the conspiracy theorists, with the Dallas Morning News
running a story this week entitled, "Paranoia Catches Abbott Attention: Gov. orders Texas guard to monitor military exercises over fears of federal takeover."
The Pentagon has reportedly described Operation Jade Helm as "a planned military exercise that will be led by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and will include personnel from the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Green Berets), U.S. Navy SEALS, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, USMC Marine Special Operations Command, USMC Marine Expeditionary Units, the 82nd Airborne Division and civilian interagency partners."
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