How the US Government Will Survive Doomsday


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Hover at Hover.com/Wendover. When nuclear bombs obliterate the earth or
a virus wipes out the human race or robots push mankind out of existence the US Government
believes that democracy should continue on. The country believes that, even if the population
of the US ceases to exist, the country should go on. Akin to its almost paranoid nature, the US
government has a series of defined protocols on how to continue the country when the country
is no longer—the Continuity of Government Plans. You probably already know about part of these
plans because you probably know about the US president’s line of succession. If the president dies, there’s a list of
17 people ranging all the way from the Vice President down to the Secretary of Homeland
Security who would take their place. With such a long list, the chances of the
US going without a president are near none. The one time a year when the entire line gathers
together—the state of the Union—one individual in the line of succession is appointed designated
survivor to wait out in a bunker to run the government if the rest of it dies. But the line of succession is the basic stuff,
the stuff people already know. What’s far less known is the semi-secret
protocols and places that the government has spent billions of dollars and decades building. However, until just 60 or 70 years ago the
US felt it was untouchable. At no time in history had an enemy existed
as relatively close to the US as during the cold war. The US’ foreign policy always kept in mind
that an ocean separated it from its enemies but with the invention of nuclear bombs an
enemy could go from declaring war on the US to toppling its government in a matter of
hours. During these days the US government began
actively preparing for doomsday. There are four main bunkers from which the
US Government would run the country following a world-ending event—the Presidential Emergency
Operations Center, Raven Rock Mountain Complex, Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center,
and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The President is the most important person
to survive doomsday both for symbolic and logistical reasons. If a nuclear warhead is inbound to Washington,
he or she would most likely evacuate downstairs from the White House into their underground
bunker but that’s not guaranteed. During the Truman administration, the President
refused to leave the oval office during what was believed to be an attack. This ended up being a false alarm, but some
presidents have said that they believe they should ride out an attack with the rest of
the population. It’s just like saying “a captain should
go down with their ship.” The Oval Office, and even the White House
Bunker is not the safest place someone can be during an attack, but morale saves lives
and seeing a President braving out the fight can help create a sense of national unity
that would keep the country together. A single person is replaceable, but the government
as a whole is more delicate. Raven Rock, Pennsylvania would serve as the
underground Pentagon. All the leaders of the armed forces will evacuate
by helicopter to this facility in the event of an attack and command their troops across
the country and the world. During an attack of an apocalyptic scale,
it’s likely that Martial Law would be imposed meaning that the military would take over
day-to-day control of the country. The commanders would have wide-ranging almost
dictatorial powers and habeas corpus would be revoked. From distributing food, to serving as law
enforcement, to keeping the lights on, the armed forces would truly work on the front
line of rebuilding a destroyed country. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex just out of
Colorado Springs, Colorado would serve as the home to NORAD—the agency responsible
for controlling and tracking the skies above the US and Canada. So, if the above ground world proved too dangerous
for the country’s leadership, these four underground bunkers would serve as home to
the bare bones of the US government, but what about the rest of it? Nearly 4.5 million people are employed by
the US federal government and they all work to keep it running. Where would the hundreds of government agencies
go? Well, nobody knows exactly—at least publicly—but
we do know how they would relocate. You might have heard of the DEFCON system—it
makes frequent appearances in movies—but few have heard of COGCON. COGCON is a readiness level system that directs
agencies how to prepare for an activation of the government’s continuity of government
plans. At COGCON 4—the lowest level—every US
Government agency must be able to relocate to an alternate facility and perform basic
functions within 12 hours—it’s an incredibly ambitious plan. At COGCON 3 this number goes down to 8 hours
then at COGCON 2 is when things get real. At this level doomsday is imminent. Every agency has three sites for their continuity
plan—A, B, and C—and the agency would split into three corresponding teams—A,
B, and C. The A team would relocate to a secure facility near its normal headquarters—probably
bunkers under DC—the B team would relocate near the Mount Weather Facility, and the C
team would relocate to another undisclosed facility. Each team would be ready to take over operations
at a moment’s notice. The A team would continue operations for as
long as possible—either until they’re dead or communications are cut off. Then the B team would seamlessly take over
operations. If the B team falls, the C team would serve
as the final chance for the survival of the government agency. When the surface of the earth is unsurvivable,
there is one other place to go other than underground—to the sky. The traditional Air Force One has redundancy
upon redundancy and dozens of classified defense measures, but there’s a different plane
from which the President might command the country after doomsday—the Boeing E-4 Advanced
Airborne Command Post. It became increasingly clear to leadership
under the Carter Administration that the bunkers would do little to protect against a direct
nuclear strike. In fact, they would just concentrate the very
individuals that the enemy would attack into a few holes in mountains. Surviving a nuclear blast while seven miles
above earth, however, is far more conceivable. This plane is sometimes referred to as, “Air
Force One when it matters.” Whenever the President travels, one of these
planes is stationed at most a couple hundred miles away. From this plane, the President can command
the country indefinitely. It can be refueled mid-air by tanker so, barring
technical issues, it can remain flying for as long as the food and water lasts. In a doomsday scenario, this plane could literally
stay airborne for weeks at a time to keep the country’s leadership safe. After armageddon, the United States’ goal
would be to rebuild the ailing country with however many survivors remained, but how would
the country continue as the same country when most everyone was dead? Because of the line of succession, the President
could be an unknown unelected official with a bare-bones government of just a few thousand
people so what’s to say to a survivor in Texas or Oregon or Alaska that it’s still
the same country continuing on. Well, what binds America together is a common
culture and legacy. Art and historical artifacts are the physical
representations of this and their survival would pose a powerful message about the state
of the Union. On Doomsday resources would be scarce and
disjointed so officials have had to make decisions about which items to save and which would
be left behind. For example, priority would be given to Leonardo
Di Vinci’s Ginevra de’ Benci over Rogier van der Weyden’s Saint George and the Dragon
and the Declaration of Independence would be saved before the Constitution. Ideally, though, all three of the nation’s
most important documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the
Bill of Rights would be evacuated from Washington. Grouped together they would be called “Freedom
Documents Group I” and while some high level officials would evacuate Washington by road,
these three documents would get their own helicopter straight to Mount Weather to continue
the powerful legacy of the United States. Nobody knows exactly how or if the US Government
will survive doomsday—all we know are some of the plans. Plans are just plans though and do not account
for the unknown. In the event that the United States is truly
threatened by nuclear war, pandemic, or any another world ending event, who knows if the
population will even believe they are still in the United States. Little distinguishes one country from another
other than what people think and if people believe they are part of the country of Alaska
or the Kingdom of California then for the most part they are. If the principles of separation of power,
judicial review, checks and balances, limited government, federalism, and popular sovereignty
live on past the end, the continuity of government plans have succeeded even if the members of
government die. These plans are not about saving the president
or the secretary of defense or any one person—they’re about making sure the structure of democratic
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