BASTROP, Texas (AP) – Civilian groups suspicious of a U.S. military training exercise are patrolling a Texas town where fears of martial law and confiscated guns have simmered for months.
But the start of the Jade Helm 15 war simulation on Wednesday was uneventful for volunteers hoping to shadow soldiers near Camp Swift, about 30 miles outside Austin. Sightings of tanks and military vehicles were limited to inside the military base, not city streets.
The seven-state Army training exercise ends in September.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Guard to monitor the operation and has deflected criticism that he is giving credence to fringe conspiracy theorists.
Eric Johnston is organizing Texas volunteers for a national group called Counter Jade Helm. He says that’s necessary because the government hasn’t been transparent about the exercise.