How the US Government will survive doomsday

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 government continues on through thick and thin.

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