A diverse array of Americans was present at the Bastrop County Commissioners Court at 9:00 AM on April 27, 2015. Citizens filled the seats in the courtroom, lined the walls and crowded the hall outside. Most of them were anxious to attend the meeting that would take place two hours later, where Operation Jade Helm 15 would be discussed. By 11:00 AM, the crowd had more than doubled. Veterans, concerned citizens and even the county commissioners were astonished by the huge turnout, especially by how many younger persons showed up, informed through alternative and social media.

The crowd was too large for the courtroom, so a separate viewing room was set up downstairs, where a TV relayed the court proceedings via Skype, which cut out intermittently to the immense frustration of the local citizens, many of whom never heard their questions answered or concerns addressed. County Judge Paul Pape presided over the meeting and said its purpose was to inform and answer questions about Jade Helm, not entertain conspiracy, advocate political viewpoints or try to change constituents’ minds on the matter. Judge Pape began the meeting and introduced two representatives for Operation Jade Helm, which he referred to as “this project.” Director of Public Affairs of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria would be providing most of the information during the meeting, and he was joined by Thomas Meade, the operations planner for Jade Helm. MORE