A General's View of Jade Helm FROM MY FRIEND BRIGADIER GENERAL GREG-RETIRED
Thank you again for what you do…..it is appreciated more than you can possibly know.
I have been reading a lot about Jade Helm….some of it is very thoughtful and some of it borders on the ridiculous. My thoughts and experiences below may help add context to your thinking on the subject. This email is rather long-winded---but you are used to that from me. :>) My hope is you will see how we got to where we are today…..and despite how this message begins, I am very concerned.
So here we go……
When I was a colonel, (early 2000’s) I took command of the 93rd Brigade. What was clear to me was the brigade was in no shape to prosecute any kind of urban warfare mission. Yet, it seemed obvious that this was the direction of future conflicts. Remarkably, even as late as the 1990’s we were stuck in a Cold War (even WW II/Korea) mentality. So, in my mind, foxholes were out--- and effectively kicking down doors and clearing rooms was in.
Almost immediately upon taking command, I initiated what today would be considered a Jade Helm type training program. The old Santa Fe prison (notorious for a brutal riot in 1980) had been shuttered, but was still standing. It was (in essence) a small city with alleys, corridors, craggy roof tops, common areas, etc. Perfect.
Beyond this, I believed that if our brigade deployed, we would be working with local/foreign police, fire, and militia type units…..as well as foreign military units. So, I enlisted both Santa Fe and Albuquerque police, fire, and emergency response teams to participate side-by-side in our training. They jumped at the chance.
I also saw another benefit in that the 1991 LA riots were still in our collective memories. When the CA National Guard had been called up then to assist, they were woefully unprepared. Compounding the lack of training, police and military did not speak the same language. For example, the story goes that an LA policeman had been paired with a marine corporal and the policeman said, “Cover me” to the marine. When the cop went to move, the marine popped up and fired bursts from his M-16! The cop came running back yelling, “What the f___ are you doing!!!” The marine replied, “You said cover me.” Policeman, “That’s not what I meant!”
But, back to the training…
As we initiated the program, there was some resistance from the “old guard,” but we pushed through it and the troops loved it. Plus, those that eventually deployed to Iraq were grateful for the realistic training. At the time, the public (the blogosphere) couldn’t have cared less….nor should they have. Everyone’s intentions were good….plus the Internet was in its infancy.
Anyway, the point is, whether it is Iraq or LA, soldiers have to be trained to do the right thing in the given situation. LA may seem like Baghdad, but it’s not (:>)) and making sure everyone knows the difference is key. Back “in the day” my officers and NCOs had long conversations/briefings with the troops about the differences between US civil unrest procedures and foreign urban warfare fighting. We all knew what posse comitatus was.
We would pose the question to the troops about shooting Americans ---and almost to a man---no one wanted to do that. Most said they “would quit” before such a thing. These were good men/women. My hope/belief is that we still have good men and men and women serving ---and these types of briefings are still going on today.
One other thing, it helps to have a historical view of how things evolved. Many of us remember Kent State, the My Lai massacre, Wounded Knee, etc. Poor training and bad leadership contributed to these atrocities. Again, you have to train and educate both the leadership and the troops if you want to avoid these things.
Had I done that same training regimen today, I would have blasted by multiple web sites. “Martial law training!” “The National Guard wants to round us up and put us in FEMA camps!!”
I understand the concern----things have changed. The days of Andy Taylor/Mayberry sheriffs are long gone. Big Brother is everywhere. America is feeling like a police state and everything is more violent. For example, on your web site you noted the recent report stating US police killed more civilians in March 2015 than British police have in the last 100 years. Conversely, US criminals are armored-up as never before, and being a policeman can’t be easy.
You know all this.
I believe most reasonable people are of like mind. They can sympathize with both the good/idealistic cop-on-the-beat who wonders what jay-walker will shoot at him/her----- and with the sons-of-liberty who see freedom falling away fast. Both the honest policeman and the dedicated patriot want things to be better/calmer/happier.
Big Brother does not, however share this vision. The police-state benefits financially and organizationally from unrest. Budgets grow. Power increases. These people are very aware of how to spark a pile of dry wood. False flag events, racial tensions, a deteriorating economy, collapsed families, miscreant-opportunists, et al all serve to make civil unrest an easy event to initiate. Thus, the “civil unrest soup” can get pretty thick pretty fast ----and truth is the first casualty.
Regardless of the trigger-event(s), once the unrest begins it has to be dealt with. This is where the extreme “liberty” groups fall short. Do they really want rioters going crazy and mobbing the mall, looting the Wal-Mart, & attacking their daughters?
Ferguson, MO is a good example of what human beings can do without constraints. Innocent people die. So to those who complain about civil-unrest training/exercises I ask, “Would you rather have the police/sheriff/fire/national guard do nothing as the mob approaches your door?” And, “When they respond, don’t you want them trained?” Or, in the name of liberty, are we going watch society collapse?
The reality is, people/societies can’t take lawlessness and chaos. Plus, the longer it takes to restore order, the more heavy handed the authoritative counter-response will be. If you want to maintain liberty, deal with lawlessness quickly….and then (and this is key) retreat to allow people to run their own lives.
With that said, it bothers me considerably that our national authorities are seeing “chaos” where there is none. Criticism and dissent are not chaos….and dissenters are often the real patriots. At best, governments at all levels are clamping down on phantom threats. At worst, they are provoking fights where there are none. There is a fiery spot in the pits of hell for those who foment this kind of hatred. Yet these people exist, and they are part of the shadowy power that currently infects this country.
The patriot groups are right to despise and defy them.
But getting back to how we evolved to today’s Jade Helm….there is a another piece of background re how “all the uniforms” have come to be part of this type of training. Allow me one last brief history lesson.
One of the criticisms of the post WW II military was that it was too “stovepipe” in its organization. The Army didn’t work with the Navy, or the AF, or Marines. There were rivalries where there should have been cooperation. Those criticisms were legitimate. Costs were duplicated/triplicated/quadruplicated. Inefficiencies ran rampant.
Thus, the services (especially as drawdowns occurred and cooperation became a necessity) began to embrace “joint-ness.” At the highest levels, it was common to see army, air, and navy officers on the same staff with a rotating commander. Soon, “joint” assignments were the key to promotion and joint commands sprang up like weeds. No longer were staffs “green or blue” but “purple”, which was the term for the melding of the services. For the most part, these commands were effective. My command at GTMO was a Joint Task Force (JTF GTMO).
Anyway, with respect to civil unrest training, it was easy to take the concept of “joint-ness” and extend it to local police/fire/emergency response teams. This was especially true for the National Guard, since many policeman and firemen were (and still are) national guardsmen on the weekends. Coordination was, therefore, easy and amicable.
In contrast, regular (active duty) soldiers have proven to be far more likely to be “tough on agitators” than the NG soldiers. The “weekend warriors” know their neighbors and their neighbors’ kids. This dichotomy was evident after Hurricane Katrina when the 82nd Airborne Division (regular army) was summarily tossed out by the local authorities, (the 82nd claims they weren’t, but they were :>)) while the various State National Guard and Reserve units were embraced.
So is Jade Helm just another joint civil-military exercise? I don’t think so and here is why.
In our past training, everything was designed to bring order to a geographical area. Once done, everyone knew we would go home. Jade Helm, however, has made the terms “human terrain” and “human domain” part of the lexicon. Wait. What? This is a far different doctrine requiring a different strategy. Different doctrines and strategies require different tactics, techniques and procedures at the operational level.
Now, instead of bringing order to a neighborhood/city/port, soldiers are being trained to bring “order” (via violence & intimidation) to individuals and groups---and sometimes preemptively. This may seem like parsing, but the difference is huge….and the technology is there to make this type of operation very effective. The contrast between then and now can’t be overstated.
Past scenarios and training were defensive/reactive in nature. The goals were restorative. The new doctrine is offensive/proactive and encourages violence/death….IMO. The old thought process was designed to preserve individual liberties---- this one is seemingly intended to deny them. The old way had a stated end-point. This new doctrine is interminable. In this new thinking, there will always be “human terrain” threats…thus, the need for a continuous police state.
In my view, there are two obvious ways to reverse this.
· At the operational level, both the civil and military leaders can stand up and say “halt!” I do not, however, see this happening and find that disturbing.
· The other way would be for those at the highest levels of leadership (the Congress/President/SecDef/Homeland Security) to call an end to it. I don’t see this happening either.
As you know, in the past, I have (correctly, I believe) disputed some of the wild claims about what is happening in the military. Re Jade Helm though, the overarching issue is the change in doctrine. The exercise itself is just an extension of this disturbing and profoundly negative change.
I hope this helps.
Your friend in Christ,
PS If there is another concerning military trend it is that the US is focusing its exercises domestically (internally), while Russia and China are focused toward expansion beyond their borders…..and with an emphasis on EMP and other types of nuclear war. I believe President Obama’s legacy will be how profoundly exposed and vulnerable he left us militarily, economically, socially, and culturally.
Apr 10, 2015