(CNSNews.com) - When hundreds of U.S. Special Operations Forces descend on Texas (and six other states) for an eight-week training mission in July, they will not be "incognito," nor will they threaten the constitutional rights or civil liberties of Americans, the White House said on Wednesday.
"My understanding is that the -- that the individuals who are participating in the exercise won't be traveling incognito, that they'll be wearing arm bands," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"The thing that I will -- that I can say, without having a lot of detailed knowledge about the particular exercise, is that in no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this week directed the Texas State Guard (volunteer reservists) to monitor the U.S. military exercise taking place in his state from July through September, "to ensure that Texas communities remain safe," he said.
"During the training operation, it is important Texans know that their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed," Abbott said in an April 28 letter directing the State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15 on a "continual basis."
Abbott said he expects to receive "regular updates on the progress and safety of the Operation."
A reporter on Wednesday asked Earnest if Abbott's directive to monitor the exercise indicates "paranoia." According to the Houston Chronicle, "plans for the exercise have roused fears in many Texans of a federal occupation."
The U.S. military says Operation Jade Helm 15 is a planned "realistic military training" exercise that will be led by the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and will include personnel from the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Green Berets), U.S. Navy SEALS, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, USMC Marine Special Operations Command, USMC Marine Expeditionary Units, the 82nd Airborne Division and civilian inter-agency partners.
The goal is to improve the Special Operations Forces' unconventional warfare capability as part of the National Security Strategy.
Operation Jade Helm 15 will take place across seven states -- Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Colorado and Nevada. "The diverse terrain in these states replicates areas Special Operations Soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas," the U.S. Army said.
"It is imperative that Special Operations Soldiers receive the best training" in "core special warfare tasks, which help protect the nation against foreign enemies."
The Army admits that the size and scope of Jade Helm "sets this one apart" from other multi-state training missions.