When Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Military Forces would “monitor” Jade Helm, a U.S. military training exercise taking place in Texas this summer, he didn’t just give an implicit thumbs up to the dumbest conspiracy kooks of the right—he also inspired those kooks to sign up for the Texas militia to defend their state.

Documents provided to Gawker following a Freedom of Information request show that as misinformation and distrust grew around Jade Helm, and as the FEMA camp invasion fears became fodder for ridicule outside of Texas, those fears proved to be a boon to the state’s own armed forces.

The Texas Military Forces are the modern version of a militia system that’s operated in Texas for almost 200 years, now under the sole control of the governor. Earlier this year, Gov. Abbott issued a statement that played straight to the unhinged id of Tea Party conservatism:

Governor Abbott directed General Betty to provide regular updates to the Governor’s Office to ensure that Texans’ “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed” during the eight-week training period from July 2015 – September 2015.

For giving in to the hysteria, Abbott, and by extension Texas, briefly became a national laughingstock. But according to these previously unreleased emails from within its ranks, the statement also provided an unexpected PR boost for the Texas State Guard, a branch of the Texas Military Forces with historic roots dating back to the founding of the Republic of Texas.

At first, not even the Texas State Guard knew what Gov. Abbott was talking about; it appears they hadn’t been briefed on what “monitoring” Jade Helm would even entail:

While the Texas State Guard waited to learn what monitoring would actually entail, their recruiters took advantage of the public relations boost. In a message dated April 30th—two days after Gov. Abbott’s statement—Texas State Guard recruiter David Childers described a “substantial increase in interest apparently due to the Jade Helm announcement”:

Master Chief Petty Officer Gary Parker described the Jade Helm paranoia as a “great opportunity” for the State Guard:

Another recruiter credited national Jade Helm fears with over forty potential new members in just one week:

At the same time, Texas Guard officers were instructing the rank and file to shut up about Jade Helm across the internet, going so far as to order volunteers to delete even prior mentions and article shares about the controversial exercise. This “cease and desist” memo went out the day after Gov. Abbott’s statement:

And though recruiters were asked to downplay Jade Helm in talks with prospects (or avoid it all together), they were also tasked with marking exactly how many interested enlistees cited Jade Helm as their reason for wanting to join:

It quickly became clear that Jade Helm wasn’t always attracting the right kind of recruit. Many referrals just wanted to join a well-armed militia.

The prospects weren’t the only ones turned on by the fantasy of repelling a federal invasion of the American southwest: Emails also show TMF officers chiding their own men for over-eagerness. It was important that absolutely no one “lean forward in the foxhole,” your new favorite military colloquialism for being proactive:

Please “keep the Indians on the reservation,” too.

Other emails show members of the Guard volunteering for the Jade Helm “monitoring” mission, without actually knowing what that mission would be:

Jade Helm concludes next week, and had it not been for Alex Jones-stoked internet panic and subsequent national press coverage, it’s doubtful most Texans would have even noticed it was happening to begin with. The training exercise that was supposed to usher in martial law and single-payer healthcare at gunpoint has so far featured only one actual threat to any American’s life or freedom: Three North Carolina men were arrested and accused of conspiring to use stockpiled weapons and homemade bombs against American soldiers.

Contact the author at biddle@gawker.com.
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