Have you seen video going viral about “military movements” in California, trying to suggest that some kind of war against everyday Americans is about to take place? The hype is completely manufactured nonsense. And experts say the kinds of military aircraft pictured are normal for any presidential visit—something that’s happening in Northern California this coming week.
The viral video, which has been shared on Twitter by a “verified” account named Derek Broes, includes a sensationalist caption that viewers are witnessing something that’s “NOT a drill.”
“BREAKING NEWS! Military landing in suburban neighbors [sic] in Larksper [sic] California. Massive military movements being reported in multiple states. Anyone have more info on this, please post below. My contact that sent this video is local military and says it is NOT a drill,” Broes tweeted on Saturday.
Incredibly, the video has over 750,000 views on Twitter alone at the time of this writing. But, as several experts on military aircraft have pointed out on Twitter, there’s nothing exceptional about the Marine helicopters in the video. They’re typically used for moving around the President, support staff, journalists, and security detail.
“HMX-1 MV-22s that ferry around WH staff and press pool. Absolutely nothing abnormal here,” Tyler Rogoway, the editor in chief of The War Zone tweeted on Saturday.
Broes, the person who’s spreading this video online, misspells the town name Larkspur, which is just north of San Francisco. And while I couldn’t independently confirm the aircraft are actually in that area and that it was taken today, it would make perfect sense that Marine helicopters would be near San Francisco right now.
In fact, President Joe Biden is visiting the region on Monday to drum up support among business leaders in the tech community. Biden is scheduled to meet with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott on Monday in Los Gatos, according to the Mercury News. Others have pointed out the helicopters in the San Francisco Bay area without resorting to fear-mongering.
And it’s not exactly like military aircraft are unknown in California, even when there’s no presidential visit imminent. California is home to 32 U.S. military bases and regularly has aircraft zipping around. But that hasn’t stopped this semi-anonymous Twitter user from hyping up the existence of military vehicles in the western U.S. Pointing out that it’s not unusual to see these kinds of aircraft hasn’t been persuasive to whoever is behind the Derek Broes account.
“Yeah, it’s always a ‘drill’ or ‘exercise’,” Broes tweeted dismissively, suggesting that something nefarious is going on.
Broes shared another video on Saturday claiming that “tanks” were spotted in Idaho with the same kind of breathless announcement his Marine helicopter video got.
“BREAKING NEWS! Tank group on the highway in Idaho falls today!” Broes tweeted.
But the video is most likely from June 14, when a military convoy from the Idaho Army National Guard’s 1st of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment were scheduled to be on the streets. It was all publicly announced in advance, as you can see from this article published by the local news.
Again, it’s not clear who this Derek Broes person might be, but they have a “verified” checkmark thanks to Twitter’s new policy of no longer verifying anyone who can pay $8 per month.
It’s perfectly reasonable to talk about the U.S. military’s presence in the lives of Americans, given the fact that it really is completely normal to see military aircraft and has been for decades. But if you’re an American who’s genuinely shocked by the sight of military aircraft, I’m not sure what to tell you. There’s absolutely nothing abnormal about seeing U.S. military helicopters in the sky, with or without a presidential visit.