Washington D.C. is expected to face a major increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, and a secret military task force is preparing to secure the capital if things get intense. As Newsweek exclusively reports, a department of the military tasked with evacuating Washington and securing the capital in the face of a threat has been mobilized.
"No one wants to talk evacuation, especially when there's nowhere to go," one senior military officer on the project said.
But if the situation becomes dire, the task force is preparing to secure and even move the White House and any other essential government departments out of the area if necessary.
The Joint Task Force National Capital Region was activated in mid-March. It was around this time that the administration began scrambling to locate and secure face masks for government employees, even while advising the public not to use them.
Currently, the nearly 10,000 uniformed troops are delivering medical supplies and providing support within the city. But in the background, it is preparing for "homeland defense" to act if there is civil unrest or even a foreign or domestic attack on the capitol.
The troops are also tasked with making sure the government can continue to function if there is a crisis, and if the city needs to be evacuated, it's this task force that will step in to make sure that government leaders are able to move somewhere where they can continue to lead the United States.
Washington D.C., like much of the country, is under a stay-at-home order that was recently extended another month by Mayor Muriel Bowser as the region prepares to face a surge in COVID-19 infections.Pentagon officials have said that the National Guard, which has been deployed across the country, isn't there to enforce quarantine guidelines or exert martial law if necessary.
"And yet the activation of Joint Task Force National Capital Region, including almost 10,000 uniformed personnel to carry out its special orders, contradicts those assurances. JTF-NCR is not only real and operating, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense for some of its mission, but some of its units are already on 24/7 alert, specially sequestered on military bases and kept out of coronavirus support duties to ensure their readiness," Newsweek reports.
One military leader says that the task force is in place to help get people where they need to be if it becomes necessary.
"We're kind of like that big taxicab that makes sure everybody gets where they need to be and keeps the government going," he said.
Part of that action has been to make plans to move the government, which the task force has been preparing for. It has been monitoring Washington airspace, with fighter jets ready to launch. The task force is authorized to act even without formal directive, to "save lives" or "mitigate great property damage."