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Military officials have negotiated contracts with local ranchers to conduct Jade Helm training on their property, according to Big Spring Mayor Larry McLellan. However, he said residents will not be “forced out of their homes” to accommodate troops during the large-scale military exercise, scheduled to run July 15 through September 15.
McLellan had no details about the contracts supposedly offered to Big Spring homeowners. Military officials were not available to answer questions about how many ranchers were being displaced or inconvenienced due to Jade Helm, and how much they would receive in compensation. Jade Helm operations planners previously confirmed training will only be conducted on private and public land with the permission of landowners or regional authorities.
One lifelong Big Spring resident told NewsWest 9 he would not accept any amount of money to surrender his home to troops. “I support our troops, but when they’re trying to take over our civilians, that ain’t cool,” he said. “[Those are] their homes. That’s where they live.”
McLellan told NewsWest 9 residents could anticipate “[hearing] more airplane traffic,” but no other major changes. “We might also see new faces around town and in the grocery stories… but I don’t think we’re going to have people kicked out of their homes or [military personnel] knocking on doors in the middle of the night,” he said. McLellan confirmed Jade Helm personnel would be purchasing groceries and other supplies locally.
Operations planners and city officials calculated “wherever they’re training could see as much as $150,000 increase in sales” during the two-month exercise. “It’s not just groceries,” said McLellan. “If they get sick and need to see a doctor… if they’re short on supplies or equipment, they’ll add to the local economy.” Rory Worthan, another lifelong Big Spring resident, said he had “no concerns about Jade Helm” and looked forward to the potential economic growth. “Any influx into our small town of Big Spring would be welcome,” he told NewsWest 9.
McLellan was quick to clarify the estimated $150,000 would be pumped into local businesses – not his own pocket. “That’s another rumor,” he said. “I’ve had a call that we were paid $150,000 to [invite Jade Helm troops to train in Big Spring]. [There has been] absolutely no compensation… to the city, the county or myself.”
Following an Army presentation in March during a Big Spring City Council meeting, city officials granted Army Special Operations Command permission to train within city boundaries. The Special Operations mission will take place across seven states with “diverse terrain [that replicates] areas soldiers regularly find themselves operating in overseas,” military officials said in a statement.
Special Operations Forces will train in only five states: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.