So it seems that two little words really can cause a stir. Presidential election, gun control, race relations. Then there is Jade Helm. While likely not burned into the memory of the average American, Jade Helm is more familiar to special operations and conventional military troops, as well as theorists (conspiracy and otherwise).

According to the unclassified (for official use only) Request to Conduct Realistic Training—JADE HELM 15 (RCRT-JH15) posted by the United States Army Special Operations Command, JH “is a challenging eight-week joint military and interagency (IA) unconventional warfare (UW) exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.” The seven states and divided regions therein are designated as hostile, permissive, uncertain (leaning hostile) and uncertain (leaning friendly), with, for example, California designated as a largely blue (permissive) region with a small portion of the south in red (hostile) based on insurgent activity in the area. Here is a graphic of the exercise’s geographic layout.

Exercise participants come from across the Department of Defense and U.S. government, and include U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Green Berets), U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command, U.S. Marine Corps Expeditionary Units, 82nd Airborne Division and some interagency partners (likely, but not confirmed: FBI, CIA, DHS and others).

The RCRT states upfront the goals that the exercise hopes to accomplish: to improve the unconventional warfare capability of U.S. special operations forces as part of the national security strategy, and to determine the pros and cons associated with the exercise. The pros, as stated, include a financial deposit into the local economy of upwards of $150,000 (based on the purchase of supplies, food, fuel, and services).