Bastrop County residents fire off questions on Jade Helm 15
BASTROP, Texas - More than 150 people packed into the Bastrop County Commissioner's Court Monday to hear details about Jade Helm 15. Members of the Army Special Operations Command are scheduled to train across the country in a multi-state exercise and some of that training will happen in Central Texas. The size and scope of Jade Helm sets it apart according a release from the military.
The exercise is scheduled to start in July and end in September.
"Training is key for our soldiers," said Lt. Colonel Mark Lastoria.
Commissioners voted in January to welcome the training. County Judge Paul Pape says he didn't expect this amount of negative criticism about the military training. Pape believes there has been some misinformation circulating around social media.
Pape invited Lt. Colonel Lastoria in from Ft. Bragg to brief residents and answer any questions. They passionately fired them off for nearly two hours.
As for Bastrop, the military says residents can expect around 60 soldiers and two Humvees. They will be training on private land.
"Would the court be offended if I said I didn't believe a word the Colonel was saying?" said one gentleman. His statement was followed by loud cheers. Another man followed asking the military official if the money would be better spent protecting the southern border.
"There are many of us here who are supportive to make sure these soldiers are trained. Trained soldiers save lives," said a veteran who supports the exercise.
As many as 15 private landowners volunteered their property for the training. When soldiers are moving from one property to another and are taking part in the exercise they will have an orange band around their shoulder. Lastoria assured residents there will be no interruption to day to day activity.
People had questions about logistics, whether the Army would reimburse if roads are damaged by Humvees and if any type of information or intelligence would be collected on the people who call Bastrop home.
Lastoria and Pape tried to ease any fears.
"You may have issues with the federal government or the administration. So be it but this institution has been with you for over 240 years," said Lastroia.
"As your county judge if I thought there was one iota of danger we would stop this," said Pape.
Pape says the training will go on and no further action is expected from the court.