Quo Vadis, Jade Helm 15?
SFC Steven M Barry USA RET
When in panic,
When in doubt,
Run in circles,
Scream and shout!
Sometime in March this writer was sent a set of briefing slides (the same ones everybody else has seen) about a forthcoming USASOC exercise called Jade Helm 15 (hereafter JH15) that was to span the entire South West even including a freak show called California. The man who sent them asked, “What do you think?” This writer responded, “Boring.” Pressed for a more substantial answer this writer explained that what is being looked at is a command and control staff exercise at theater scale and that the small number of troops involved (New SF or otherwise) meant they were only bit players in a scenario so the orders issued were not merely CPX fluff. This writer also remarked that a C&C exercise of this magnitude and on this scale means that an OPLAN has been dusted off, is being converted into an OPORD, and within a year (or maybe two) we will see another campaign. Given current events, and the assumptions of the briefing slides, this writer speculated the destabilization of Central Asia. The Lie on Terror is running on inertia; now it is Russia’s turn.
This writer’s correspondent remarked that “patriots” were already howling about martial law. Sure enough! (sigh.) It took not long at all for all the other prison camp, cordon and sweep, lists (red or otherwise), and box cars with meat hooks (oops, sorry, that was the ’90s, this time it is shackles – and a new one! gun confiscation boxcars), feverish alarm about military convoys, etc. and all the other desiderata ad nauseam, which causes “patriots” to break out in cold sweat, fueled by the inane polemics and rhetorical bloviating of Internet panic mongers (where do they get their money?) – and even some retired professional military who should know better (if they do know better are we not justified in questioning their motives? and if they do not know better why does anybody listen to them?) – to percolate to the surface. The only thing missing was Russian infantry divisions hidden in salt mines and national forests (remember those from the ’90s kids?). The only fresh panicking that didn’t mirror the ’90s and Y2K was about Prison-Mart and their secret tunnels. OH! And the prison distillery in Kentucky. Just who dreams up this shit? Doesn’t matter; “patriots” lap it up.
Well… We are now two weeks into JH15. No martial law. No cordon and sweep. Prison-Marts are still empty. And the secret tunnels are still not filled with executed “patriots.” Really, can you think of anything more disappointing? After all; “resistance” to oppressive tyranny is all about one being such a threat and so very important (and “patriots” are such a positive menace and so much feared) that one must be destined to be rounded up only to disappear in Prison-Mart. Never mind that the tireless oppressive tyranny is the representative democracy of innumerable sovereigns – nothing to see there. And what about the credibility of the Internet panic mongers – and those few retired professional military who should have had cooler and more prudent heads? (Was it stupidity, or malice – or cupidity on their part?) Is their credibility trashed?
Hell no: In any case not among “patriots.” The panic mongers will continue to roar against the logical consequences of the ideas they embrace; they’ll scream EEEEEEEK! at the odd shadows of any mindless idiocy like frightened girls; they’ll change the subject and back pedal when facts contradict them; “patriots” will still tune in to the latest outrage and click the Like! button – and the populists will continue to make money on what the military does because it is the military; like transporting military equipment to training areas in the course of normal deployments and the repositioning of vehicles. Just like the military has been doing for, well, forever.
Can anybody imagine anything more threatening, brazen and menacing than what the Army has done forever?
But…. back to JH15. USASOC were caught in the web of their sinister martial law (some say coup) plan by ever so keen always so vigilant militant IIIpers, and the USASOC Public Affairs Office were shoved into a corner and compelled into a pathetic mind numbing public briefing by some brain dead civilian PAO prol, the result thereby martial law was stopped dead in its tracks. Whew! Thank you IIIpers! That was a close one. Too close!
The response of many Old SF to that briefing? “Pff. Now we have your measure.”
It Has Always Been Thus
Special Forces has always since its inception, and everywhere in CONUS, conducted off post Unconventional Warfare training exercises. They’ve been doing it since the 1960s. When they did so nobody screamed about “martial law” or “coup.” In the days we made our own UWOAs and built our own “Auxiliary.” They were pretty freewheeling affairs and so long as purely administrative constraints were not too egregiously ignored they were fairly “open scenario.” In the days there were no private “military contractors.” Just National Guard people – you know them; the militia. They were allowed to be “Gs” and carry guns (and sometimes military academy cadets). Other civilians were happy with the support roles assigned to them; they were invariably subordinated to a local retired military (VFW was a favored recruiting ground). However, those freewheeling days are long gone. They were murdered during the Reagan Regime. So when this writer heard about JH15 he figured the contractors would be all over it. Sure enough, any number of contractors soliciting “G Chiefs,” “Assistant G Chiefs,” “Resistance Leaders,” “Area Command” folks. “Auxiliary Chief,” “Auxiliary” blah blah. You name it. All the usual necessary bit players. But here is the difference: Back in the days people did those things for us because they loved us and wanted to play. Today, contractors and “role players” do those things for USASOC for money. Today a UW exercise is no longer fun for the civilian bit players; it’s just fucking business for military contractors.
When UW training exercises were fun (before the “patriot movement” – which is neither patriotic nor a movement – began rattling their “militia” crap during the mid-’80s and frightening the Reagan Puritans and their “Neocon” – we know who they are – commissars), an Advance Party (ADVON) of two or three would go TDY to the AO and scout out training areas, make contact with and brief local officials, and “work” the community institutions – including the local bars. It was always a “cold pitch.” Meaning, this is who we are, this is what we’re doing, this is what we would like you to do for us, do you want to play (for nothing but gas money)? YES! was the inevitable answer. So within about three weeks the ADVON would have assembled, organized, trained and taken charge of and assumed responsibility for a not insignificant “auxiliary.” The “indig” (auxiliary) were invited to every event before “D-Day,” such as Drop Zone surveys, Message Pick Up surveys, STOL landing strip surveys, etc., where everything was explained to them, invariably culminating in a cookout (with plenty of refreshments).
And here is the fun part. The ADVON “worked” both sides. They would deliberately set one community against another. In County X they would work up a “pro-G” auxiliary, while in County Y (where OPFOR was to be stationed) they would work up a pro-OPFOR counter-resistance – and they would frequently blur those lines. So that, when the UW exercise kicked off, it was not at all unusual for local police departments to either ignore or prosecute the Auxiliaries’ odd hours activities, county commissions took “G” or “OPFOR” sides against city councils and vice versa, and local newspapers would print front page stories about “G” or “OPFOR” outrages or successes and even editorial columns justified or condemned one or the other side – and all with unsupervised “treason” and treachery” on both sides. During combat ops nobody in the surrounds was scared about explosions, machinegun and small arms fire, helicopters in the dead of night, armed groups cutting through yards, OPFOR convoys, the odd kidnapping or “political assassination” during lunch hour at the local gas station or diner. You name it. Everybody knew it was nothing but a wargame.
People then, back in the days, were not afraid of SF or the military, The civilians loved us, and we loved (many of) the civilians. Then the “patriot movement” happened – and politically and sympathetically it all went sour. Which raises some interesting questions about the “patriot movement.”
NB: The organizing of off post UW exercises described above were nothing more than less constrained out of “school house” versions of “ROBIN SAGE,” what used to be known as the “field phase” of Phase III of SFQC. These days ROBIN SAGE ought better be known as “Uwharrie Phase” of Ranger School for all it is worth. Since the early-mid 1980s ROBIN SAGE had all the “bells and smells and vestments” (the accidents) of the early ROBIN SAGE, but it had been emptied of its substance (its “Is-ness”). Not that ROBIN SAGE had much “Is-ness” originally; ROBIN SAGE had always been the comic book version of UW (like Jade Helm 15 is now). There were many things implicit in ROBIN SAGE that were explicitly missing in the exercise itself – questions 99 out of 100 students never even thought to ask. Like… Who does the G-Chief answer to? The Area Command. Who does the Area Command answer to? The Resistance. Just who the fuck is this “Resistance” and just who the hell do they answer to? Silence. That is one question too many.
Most gentle reader, UW is not a comic book. That is why this writer strongly discourages children from playing with fire, touching the burner, or sticking a fork in the outlet. Dream about it howsoever you will, you cannot do it. All UW is state sponsored; it is out of your capacity. If you do try the ROBIN SAGE comic book version you will be killed. Period.
A Final Word
When Jade Helm 15 was “leaked” did “patriots” try to insinuate themselves into the exercise by signing up as role players so they could be on the inside seeing what was going on instead of standing on the outside wringing their hands? No. Do “patriots” grasp the concept that being on the inside they might have gotten some training and have learned something? No. They were consumed with unthinking distrust of the military – sparked in large part by Internet bloviators, and a particular dung eating spreader of panic called “Dahboo777” (whose real name is Justin Shannon Knight). Who do these people really work for? What is their game? Who pays their bills?
Granted, these days getting “involved” is more difficult, given that contractors have cornered the market and role players are typically former military, and New SF wouldn’t know how to set up an off post UW exercise and wouldn’t even dream of “working” the locals because they don’t know how.
If anybody here thinks it is a wise thing to cause the military to look upon “concerned citizens” with anything other than benign indifference, you deserve the consequences of being regarded as dangerous revolutionaries.