CAMP BULLIS, Texas (KXAN) — Four months ago, members of the U.S. Army local governments hosted special meetings with the public to squash rumors about martial law and the military taking over Texas. One meeting in Bastrop County was tense and standing room only, but since then it’s been quiet.
Amidst the social media firestorm, the U.S. Army Special Forces started their training across 12 counties in Texas in mid-July. The U.S. Army Special Forces have also trained on military bases, private and state lands in Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.
Late Tuesday night, nearly 550 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were geared up and ready to jump out of a plane flying over Camp Bullis in San Antonio. But minutes before the drop, the agency decided to scrap the exercise due to safety concerns.
“There was a safety issue with the aircraft that did not allow for any of the paratroopers or the equipment to exit the aircraft,” explains Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He said the five C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes flew past Camp Bullis and landed at Fort Hood. “We take safety very seriously. Nothing that we do in training is worth life, limb or eyesight.”
Lastoria said the unconventional warfare exercise is usually the final test for soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina who are going into the Special Forces. It’s the same training happening in ‘Jade Helm 15,’ the only difference is this is the largest exercise of its kind that’s happening across several states.
“It’s more critical for our army to insure we have special operations forces and conventional forces integrated and they can act interoperability and interdependently with one another which is how we’ve been overseas for the last 14 years, so we have to keep honing those skills and revisiting them all the time,” said Lastoria.
Lastoria believes the these exercises will be held yearly in the future, due to the success of the training.
“So far, we’re very pleased with the results. We’ve been assessing to see if we are properly, trained, equipped and organized to conduct special warfare in to the future overseas to protect our national security interests,” said Lastoria. He said places like Camp Bullis and other locations in Texas offer different terrain which gives Special Forces new territory to practice on other than Fort Bragg.