BIG SPRING - A review of statements made Tuesday, May 13 by a local official regarding the upcoming Jade Helm exercise revealed he did not state Big Spring landowners will be receiving monetary compensation for use of their property, as previously reported.
In response to questions about payment, the exact words used by Big Spring Mayor Larry McLellan were that ranchers had been "contracted" for land usage.
Military officials returned calls from NewsWest 9 approximately 22 hours after publication of the original Jade Helm report in question. A statement from Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman, is published below:
"U.S. Army Special Operations Command is thankful for the private landowners who volunteered the use of their land, without compensation, in order to provide a realistic and safe training environment for Army Special Operations Forces. Their words and actions clearly communicate support of U.S. troops.
Municipalities and counties supporting this training exercise are not receiving compensation for the limited and pre-approved use of their property.
Mayor McLellan, of Big Spring, was referring to a mechanism for a land owner to submit a property damage claim if such an incident were to occur. Any property damage claim will go through a thorough vetting process. However, conducting a safe training exercise that prepares Army Special Operations Forces for possible overseas operations is our top priority, and we will conduct the training safely and courteously in all regards."