For several days, social media has been flooded with videos of large U.S. military movements. Conspiracy theorists quickly picked up on the topic, sharing dozens of videos showing armoured vehicles on American streets and in rail transport. They then linked the pictures with the outbreak of the Third World War or the Great Reset. Of course, quite predictably in such cases, the truth is much more prosaic than conspiracy theorists would like.
Several Twitter accounts have taken the lead in spreading ominous information, photos and videos. Among them were e.g. @CBKNEWS121, @matttttt187, @cotupacs, @WillingWitness, or @Sprinter99880. It comes as no surprise that they are known for spreading conspiracy theories, supporting Donald Trump, or promoting anti-Ukrainian or anti-vaccine content.
Rumours of this type made in to Poland as well, namely they could be found on Twitter. Wojciech Cejrowski’s official account shared this information by posting 23 links to photos and recordings of military transports. The tweet suggested that something unusual and extraordinary was happening.
The sheer number of listed films was intended to evoke a sense of mass events in the viewer. At the same time, comments that these situations are suspicious and that the government is hiding the real purpose of the troop movements caused anxiety among social media users. We are unable to verify all the videos, but below you will find examples showing that nothing out of the ordinary is actually happening in the U.S.
It is not troop movements in the U.S., it is an echelon in Canada
One of the most popular videos circulating online shows military vehicles being transported by train (echelon). Many people claimed that the video was shot in the U.S. It was also suggested that perhaps war was imminent. Many posts were intended to arouse anxiety and fear among recipients.
In fact, the video shows Canadian LAV 6 armoured vehicles, which are not in service with the U.S. Armed Forces. One TikTok user posted the aforementioned video on 13 June, 2023 with the caption “Hundreds of tanks appeared in Montreal”. It is worth noting here that the vehicles transported by echelon are wheeled infantry fighting vehicles, not tanks. Canada’s Department of National Defense confirmed to Snopes that the vehicles seen in the video were returning from the annual “Maple Resolve” exercise in Alberta. Most likely, the same echelon was captured in another recording circulating on social media, although due to the poor quality of the video, this cannot be confirmed unequivocally.
After a brief analysis, it turns out that on 19 June, 2023, Joe Biden’s visit to California began. The Ospreys seen in the video are a popular means of transport for members of the Cabinet, security staff, and the President of the United States himself. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had closed airspace over Larkspur and the surrounding area, as seen on the FAA’s website. On Tuesday, 20 June 2023, Joe Biden visited Marin County where Larkspur is located. We were able to confirm the
geolocation of the video, the V-22 Ospreys most likely landed on the grounds of Marin College. Everything indicates that these were exercises that took place a few days earlier to prepare the pilots for a proper landing with the president on board. Alternatively, security and some of Joe Biden’s staff were transported ahead of time.
U.S. Troop Movements — National Guard exercises
Many of the recordings shared on social media show vehicles that move in large numbers on American highways and streets. The equipment that can be seen on most of them belongs to the American National Guard, whose exercises are held every year, usually in the summer season. It is therefore not surprising that in June in the U.S. you can encounter increased traffic of military vehicles. Read more about this year’s manoeuvres here.
One of the videos showing the passage of National Guard equipment was shot in Idaho. It shows M109 self-propelled howitzers. The military announced the passage of the column a few days earlier. It was associated with annual exercises. The author of the Twitter post in question (@WillingWitness) gave the wrong recording date. Most likely, this was done on purpose to make the news more sensational.
Another popular video was captured in Philadelphia, where wheeled armoured vehicles were seen downtown. It caused quite a sensation because of where the military equipment was recorded. However, as BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh points out, these are most likely vehicles of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Geolocation shows that the equipment is moving towards a recruitment facility. The move was probably related to the already mentioned annual exercises of the National Guard.
The flood of videos with transports of military equipment is intended to arouse anxiety in the recipients. Everything indicates that the publication of a large number of recordings with sensational captions was primarily intended to generate reach and numerous comments. The content in question was shared by accounts known to be unreliable.
The recordings do not actually portray any unusual events. They show vehicles moving as part of annual exercises or other routine tasks. Some of them present events from outside the U.S., while others are old recordings that have been re-shared in false context. Therefore, they should not be treated as content that reliably reflects reality.