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Jade Helm and the Second Battle of Bastrop

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Attention, Alex Jones! Attention, Governor Greg Abbott! The federal government has placed 90,000 Army troops just north of Killeen with tanks. If those tanks start to roll, they can be in the capital city of Texas within two hours.

But, wait! There are another 90,000 U.S. military personnel in San Antonio de Bexar. Somehow, I don’t think they’re about to hand over the keys to the armory as U.S. Major General David E. Twiggs did on February 8, 1861, when Ben McCulloch showed up with the Texas militia. (You know Ben McCulloch. He’s the guy with the camp named after him near The Salt Lick barbecue.)

Heavens! There’s 30,000 more U.S. military personnel way out west in El Paso. Remember the 1960s thriller movie about a possible military coup d’état, Seven Days in May? Some forces in El Paso are key to the plot, and their commander is in the dark about why they are training: “We seem to spend more time training for seizure than for prevention, like the Commies already had the stuff, and we had to get it back.”

The State of Texas is surrounded by federal troops, but the black helicopter crowd is worried the takeover is starting disguised as the military training exercise Jade Helm 15 at the Walmart in Bastrop?

Bastrop has been under siege by federal forces before; of course. They were Mexican federals and the year was 1836. Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad! Remember Bastrop? Nope. And Bastrop defender Noah Smithwick tells us why:

One morning we woke up and saw the Mexicans, six hundred strong, on the opposite side of the river, they having captured our boat. We didn’t ‘stand on the order’ of our going, but went at once and in such a hurry that we came near to leaving the sentry, old Jimmy Curtice, on duty. We had got away when I happened to think of him, and rushing up to Major Williamson, said: “You ain’t going to leave Uncle Jimmie on guard, are you, Major?”

“Good God! No; ride back and tell the old man to come on.” I galloped back and found Uncle Jimmie sitting leaning against a tree, with a bottle of whisky beside him, as happy and unconscious of danger as a turtle on a log. “Hello, Uncle Jimmie,” I cried, “Mount and ride for your life. The Mexicans are on the other side and our men all gone.” “The hell they are! ‘Light and take a drink.” “There’s no time for drinking. Come – mount and let’s be off. The Mexicans may swim the river and be after us at any moment.” “Let’s drink to their confusion,” he persisted, and, thinking it the quickest way to start him, I drank with him and we struck out.

“Well, we can say one thing; we were the last men to leave,” said he, not in the least disturbed.”

Thus ended the First Battle of Bastrop.

Here we are 179 years later at the Second Battle of Bastrop, with a froth of paranoia whipped up by Alex Jones and his Infowars web site. And Governor Abbott has dispatched portions of the unarmed Texas State Guard to “monitor” the federal military forces as they conduct part of their multi-state Jade Helm 15 exercise in Bastrop this summer. Infowars has rushed to Abbott’s defense against a skeptical news media.

The volley of negative press coverage arrived in response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s perfectly rational announcement that Texas State Guard would monitor the drill to allay the concerns of residents and ensure that constitutional rights were not violated.

Infowars was particularly snarky in its assessment of coverage by our capital city newspaper.

In an Austin-American Statesman article which virtually no one read (it has just three comments at time of press), Jonathan Tilove throws the kitchen sink at Alex Jones, conflating “paranoia” about Jade Helm with issues like the presidential candidacy of Senator Rand Paul and even Infowars product advertisements that feature at the end of all our YouTube videos.

Perhaps Tilove did over-react. I mean, it is pretty easy to misread that Infowars headline, Feds Preparing To Invade Texas, List State As ‘Hostile.” As the Infowars story says:

 A leaked 2012 US Army Military Police training manual, entitled “Civil Disturbance Operations,” described how soldiers would be ordered to confiscate firearms and kill American “dissidents.” The manual also revealed that prisoners would be detained in temporary internment camps and “re-educated” to gain a new appreciation of “U.S. policies,” in accordance with U.S. Army FM 3-19.40 Internment/Resettlement Operations.

Also in 2012, a Department of Homeland Security-funded study characterized Americans “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.

Sorry, Alex. Sorry, Governor Abbott. If the U.S. military wanted to take over Texas, it could be done so in half a day right now without the guise of a training exercise in Bastrop. Those who say Abbott is feeding a state of paranoia by tasking state guardsmen to monitor Jade Helm are correct.

Former Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, in an op-ed that appeared in The Dallas Morning News, wrote that Texans are doing the military a disservice by casting aspersions on them. Dewhurst was an Air Force intelligence officer in Vietnam and later served in the CIA in South America. Members of the military, he said, should be treated as patriots, not plotters.

They love their country and they’re willing to die to defend your liberties. Unfortunately, some Texans have projected their legitimate concerns about the competence and trustworthiness of President Barack Obama onto these noble warriors.

This must stop. As a veteran of the Vietnam era, I remember too well a climate where troops who had bravely served were met with insults and derision when they came home. It has taken our country decades to change that, and a small but vocal contingent of Texans who would call themselves patriotic are on the verge of ushering that mindset back into vogue. I am furious at the thought, and every right-minded Texan should be as well.

If Texans want to be paranoid of government intervention in our lives, they should worry about that National Security Agency-style computer at the Texas Department of Public Safety that scoops up all sorts of data on every Texan. They should worry that several police departments in Texas have a device called StingRay that can collect mobile phone calls at random. They should worry about the license plate scanners that can track vehicles from one location to another. Then what about the rumors that DPS troopers are pulling over drivers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley on minor infractions as part of the border security efforts? Texas state government is far closer to creating a police state than Jade Helm ever will be.

Governor Abbott, as the Texas commander in chief, it is time to tell the Texas State Guard to stand down when it comes to Jade Helm.   

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  • José

    When this training exercise is over, and it becomes clear to all that there was in fact no secret conspiracy by Obama and the UN and goodness knows who else, what then? Who is going to call these yahoos to account for their lies, their fear mongering, their actions against the United States?

    • Jed

      besides the two of us, you mean?

      i am so sad and embarrassed to be human.

      • WUSRPH

        Don’t expect Abbott to say anything nice about them…after all they work for the FEDERAL government.
        P.S. Don’t forget all those 90 plus B-1 bombers out in West Texas…..

        • Blue Dogs

          Someone wrote an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, blasting Abbott for not serving in the military.

      • Sports Princess

        I’m in. Meet back here in September?

        • Jed

          sorry, i have to go away before i hurt any more feelings.

          like big business, the media are very sensitive. wait, they ARE big business. a ha!

      • Indiana Pearl

        I’m in.

      • Terryl Terrell

        Me. As a retired Army Veteran living in the Fort Hood area, I am disgusted by what Greg Abbott has done. His pandering to right wing hysteria has gone too far.

    • BakoD

      Unfortunately it will go unacknowledged like the oil spills in Galveston bay and the dioxin swamp on the Trinity. Truth is dead and politicians killed it. Cruz for President!

  • I love it when lefties love the military.

    • Nangleator

      I love it when righties shiver in fear over the military.

  • Jerry Patterson

    I spent 24 years in the Marine Corps, 10 active and 14 in the Reserve. During that time, training was conducted outside of the boundaries of military installations, and on private and public property, including movement along public roads and in urban areas. My Mom shared stories of the soldiers from Fort Polk Louisiana doing maneuvers all over Southern Louisiana and East Texas during WW II, and the same training occurred in the desert areas of Southern California and Arizona where General Patton’s armored divisions trained before going overseas. I’m sure this story was repeated all over the US. I fail to see the problem here. JP

    • r.g. ratcliffe

      I lived just outside the Glynco Federal Law Enforcement Training Center for several years. Brunswick, Ga., was constantly overrun with DEA, U.S. Marshals, park rangers etc. trying to run covert ops in the city, or giving witness protection to drug kingpins. Several of my freelance writer friends paid their rent every month as role-players for Glynco. Off-site training has to occur.

    • Johnathan Stiner

      Th problem is that the training maps specifically identify republican held states as “hostile” and democratic held states as “friendly”. It is terribly offensive and alarming that th Federal Government would classify Texas as a hostile enemy, even if only in training.


    • Suomy Nona

      Did the President have the legal right to murder us citizens back then?,
      Did the federal government treat its citizens as the enemy?
      Did we have an out of control Intelligence community spying on us.
      Did they lock people up for 35 yrs for telling the truth,
      Did they torture prisoners back then?
      Did Police come to peoples houses and close off entire neighborhoods with blanket bench warrants?
      Did they Collect infinite amounts of Data on EVERY citizen in America back then?
      These thing scare some people,,,Like Smart people,,I would be scared as shit at this point if solders came into My town in force…
      The Federal Government is the one Declaring War on the AMERICAN people, cant blame that on anyone but the Intelligence Community

  • fivendimer

    The Dallas Morning News quoted a letter from Todd Smith, a retired Republican legislator from Euless, to Gov. Abbott stating that he is “horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to those who do.”

  • Houston Dunston

    I will add this as well. I served in the Texas State Guard for around ten years. I think even most commanding officers would agree their units are ill-trained (as in NOT AT ALL) to handle this type of assignment.

    Guys! Don’t do anything stupid!!

  • Jed

    somebody better alert erica that there are soldiers in our midst, sowing uncertainty. and they’re getting more and more unfamiliar by the minute!

  • Jed

    ps – dewhurst can go get stuffed. he’s about as relevant as dick cheney.

    • dave in texas

      I know, right? He couldn’t even make a simple “Calm down, this is nonsense” statement without a gratuitous, unfounded poke at the president.

    • John Johnson

      Calm down, Jed. Your uber liberalism is showing.

    • Blue Dogs

      Dewhurst has nothing to do with this!

  • Indiana Pearl

    Wasting the taxpayers’ dollars to pander to the right-wing lunatic fringe . . . yet they can’t find enough money to educate our precious children.

  • RedFishCelt

    Easy bum steer award winner…

    • Jed

      hardly. a new front runner emerges daily.

    • John Johnson

      TM will have to designate half the Bum Steer issue to Stickland alone.

      • Spanky

        They may need two issues this year.

    • Fearguth

      This deserves a Steer Bum Award!

  • John Johnson

    At a time when Pentagon big-wigs are having to decide which bases to mothball, does it seem like a good idea to accuse them of plotting the overthrow of Texas? Will they view this as a sharp poke in the eye? Come on Governor…quit the pandering.

    • dave in texas

      I grew up in Amarillo, and the city like to have died when the air force base closed in the mid-sixties (legend has it that LBJ was pissed because Panhandle residents didn’t vote for him in sufficient numbers. I have no idea if that’s true or not). The population dropped from 150K to about 120K. Took better than 20 years to recover. These idiotic conspiracy theorists and the elected officials who egg them on need to become acquainted with the law of unintended consequences.


    Has anybody ever asked Abbott if he thinks 9-11 was “an inside job”?

  • Sports Princess

    This has been my point all along. We have nearly half a million troops in Texas and THIS is suddenly a problem? We have nukes in this state, for crying out loud, and 60 dudes running around Bastrop County is a threat to our sovereignty?

  • marisa a

    Conspiracy or real threat – i’m not privy to many truths. I’m just a born and raised American. Either way, Abbott’s actions make sense. Checks and balances. How can anyone argue the logic?

    • José

      No. There must be a limit based on logic, reason, and practicality. Abbott’s actions fail those criteria according to a number of us here. He’s merely caving in to a very vocal minority who are prisoners of their paranoia and prejudices, and he’s looking weak and silly in response.

      Perhaps as an additional one of those checks and balances, we can insist that the governor reaffirm his oath of office every day, including the part about upholding and protecting the U.S. Constitution, and furthermore that he acknowledge the Bill of Rights and the fact that the U.S. President is Commander in Chief. You OK with that? How can anyone argue against it?

      • Blue Dogs

        Abbott’s just doing what he said he was going to do during the campaign: standing up to the Feds & telling them to SHOVE IT!

    • Indiana Pearl

      The idea that a few hundred state militia can outgun the U. S. military is silly. Those days are long gone.

  • RevZafod

    It’s ISIS and sharia law! Texas Monthly has already been infiltrated. Just look at the name of the blog! Burka!!1!
    When in worry
    Or in doubt.
    Run in circles,
    Scream and shout!

  • Nangleator

    Texas wasn’t listed as “hostile.” That’s a mistake. It was meant to say, “Texas is offensive.”

  • Beth Zampol

    The Bene Gesserit were right. “Fear is the mind killer”… It explains all those repub voters

  • For the last 10 years the GOP has had more loose screws than Hugh Hefner.

  • Johnathan Stiner

    It is funny how liberals always belittle and insult rather than argue facts. This article is garbage and i will cancel my Texas Monthly renewal.

  • Suomy Nona

    Um, You know the president has the Authority to murder US Citizens without Trial, and they are labeling people as terrorist for political beliefs, IS It any wonder people are Scared… Not to say their not crazy, but so are you guys…DUH, lets all sit back and make fun of old people who are afraid of what this country has become since 911..