Barnini Chakraborty reports at Fox News:
A controversial U.S. military training exercise known as "Operation Jade Helm" rolls out this week across several southwestern states -- but a group of wary citizen watchdogs will be keeping an eye on them.
Pete Lanteri, a former Marine now living in Arizona, told FoxNews.com that volunteer members he's helped organize will be on the ground as part of a newly formed surveillance campaign called "Counter Jade Helm." A product of mounting suspicions across western states over the exercise itself, the group has been set up to locate, track and observe U.S. soldiers -- Green Berets, Air Force Special Ops, Navy SEALs -- training across the Southwest.
"The three-month military exercise kicks off Wednesday," Fox reports, and "Lanteri played down the notion that the 'counter' campaign could lead to conflict."
"We’re not paranoid tin-hat wearing freaks,” Lanteri is quoted as telling Fox News. "We’re not going to be out there confronting people or holding signs."
According to Fox News, "Lanteri and his volunteers will be in plain clothes, in plain sight and armed with only cell phones and video cameras, he says."
Lanteri "plans to travel to central Texas over the weekend to help kick off the 'Counter Jade Helm' project," Fox reports. "He said California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Florida and Utah also are among the states participating in the counter-missions; there have been conflicting reports about which specific states Jade Helm will be in, though the operation appears to concentrate in the Southwest."
What are Lanteri's motivations? "I did this because A: I believe in monitoring what the government does and B: I see this as a training opportunity,” Lanteri, who has spent a decade working on the Arizona-Mexico border, said," according to Fox.
"Lanteri says aside from the 'conspiracy nut jobs,' there have been others who genuinely feel that the military may be up to something not quite right. He says it's their right as U.S. citizens to be able to question motive and look for answers," Fox reports.
"Ronald Reagan said to trust and verify, and that's what we’re going to do," Lanteri said, according to Foxnews.com.