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- Videos and photos of military equipment on the streets and in the skies in the U.S. are not proof of "war prep" or coming military action within the country. The examples we examined are showing routine military training exercises or patriotic celebrations, and in one case is likely related to presidential travel.
Because there are thousands of military bases in the United States and Canada, it’s not uncommon for people who live nearby to see military vehicles on local roads or military aircraft overhead.
But some social media users are pointing to these routine sightings as grist for a baseless conspiracy that the military is mobilizing against its own citizens.
A headline of a June 17 article shared on social media read, "Tanks and troops deploying inside U.S.A. and Canada." The article begins, "Citizens in **MANY** areas of the U.S.A. are startled that tanks, troops, assault aircraft are BEING DEPLOYED on the streets throughout the U.S.A. today, Saturday, June 17." A caption on one Facebook post sharing the article said, "Things are happening!"
Things are happening, but the explanations are much more mundane, and less sinister than the claim suggests.
The "Hal Turner Radio Show" has spread conspiracy theories in the past, PolitiFact reported in previous fact-checks.
The article and posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The article cited as evidence multiple examples of the military’s movements: Videos of tanks on an Idaho highway; Osprey helicopters supposedly "dropping marines" in a California neighborhood; trains carrying "military armor" in Montreal and military vehicles on the streets of downtown Philadelphia.
The article quoted an unnamed source who said, "This is not a drill … this is war prep." It urged readers to stock up on supplies of food, gas and cash because "something wicked this way comes."
We reached out to Turner for additional evidence to support his claims but received no reply.
The article was updated several times over multiple days to include at least 13 examples. We examined several; here’s what we found.
Idaho: The article said that "M109 self-propelled artillery" resembling tanks were operating on public roads in Idaho Falls, which put the military "in direct control of the I-15 Highway."
There were artillery vehicles recently on the highway in Idaho, but they were headed back to the Idaho Falls Armory after a training exercise, the East Idaho News reported. The Idaho National Guard said in a June 13 Facebook post that the vehicles would be moved the next day along state roads after a training exercise. "Don’t be alarmed!" the post said.
California: The Hal Turner article included a video of low-flying, military-style helicopters it said was filmed in Larkspur on June 16. It said they were "dropping troops into residential neighborhoods," although the video does not show that. Other social media users shared images of the aircraft spotted that day.
But news outlets and observers offered an explanation supported by evidence. SFGate, an online news outlet in San Francisco, reported June 18 that at least five MV-22 Ospreys and Sikorsky White Hawk helicopters were seen doing maneuvers in the area June 16. The article said the activity likely was related to a planned visit by President Joe Biden.
We contacted the White House and state and local officials but did not receive a response.
Biden arrived June 19 in the San Francisco area for campaign fundraisers and to discuss climate change. On June 20, Biden visited Larkspur, a city about 30 minutes north of San Francisco — where the footage in the Hal Turner article was from — the president’s public schedule shows.
Some tweets about the helicopters included a community note about a Federal Aviation Administration notice that says that "temporary flight restrictions for VIP Movement" were in place June 20 and 21 in San Francisco. The notice also said that only specific aircraft were allowed, including "approved law enforcement" and "(military aircraft) directly supporting the United States Secret Service and the office of the President of the United States."
When contacted about the article’s military claims and the helicopter video, a Defense Department spokesperson wrote in an email to PolitiFact, "Be advised military units train a lot and it would not be uncommon to see them doing drills," but did not comment further. California is home to 32 military bases and the military routinely conducts training exercises.
Philadelphia: The article shared a video of military vehicles moving along Walnut Street in a downtown Philadelphia shopping district, but did not provide details about when the footage was shot or what was happening. We found other posts sharing the video on social media, with some saying it was taken June 14. One Twitter user took it as a sign that "something BIG is happening."
The Pennsylvania National Guard had personnel and equipment in the city that day for the Stripes and Stars Festival, which celebrated Flag Day and the Army’s 248th birthday, according to Maj. Travis Mueller, a public affairs officer for the Guard.
"Those types of vehicles were on display for the public," Mueller told PolitiFact.
Canada: The "Hal Turner Radio Show" article shared a June 12 video that originated on TikTok and said it showed a train carrying military vehicles in Montreal. It asked, "Why is Canada putting military hardware into one of its largest cities on a Saturday?"
A spokesperson for Canada’s Department of National Defence told PolitiFact the video shows Canadian Armed Forces vehicles returning from an annual military exercise called Maple Resolve in Wainwright, Alberta, which ended May 22.
They were traveling by train to Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec, said the spokesperson, who pointed to a government webpage about Maple Resolve. That page shows a photo of the vehicles being loaded onto the train.
An article shared on social media claims that videos and photos of military vehicles are proof of "war prep" and looming military action within the U.S.
In four of the examples cited, we found simple explanations backed by evidence, such as routine military training exercises or patriotic celebrations. One case is likely related to presidential travel.
We rate the claim False.
Hal Turner Radio Show, "Tanks & troops deploying inside U.S.A. (and Canada)," June 17, 2023
Facebook post, June 17, 2023
Tweet, June 14, 2023
Tweet, June 16, 2023
Tweet, June 17, 2023
Tweet, June 18, 2023
Tweet, June 19, 2023
Maj. Travis Mueller, public affairs officer for Pennsylvania National Guard, email exchange, June 20, 2023
Department of Defense spokesperson, email exchange, June 19, 2023
Canada Department of National Defence spokesperson, email exchange, June 19, 2023
Government of Canada, "Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE," May 5, 2023
U.S. Army, "Army Reserve leaders celebrate Army’s 248th birthday at nation’s birthplace," June 16, 2023
President Joe Biden’s public schedule, accessed June 20, 2023
Federal Aviation Administration notice, June 17, 2023
TikTok video, June 12, 2023
Idaho National Guard, Facebook post, June 13, 2023
East Idaho News, "Viral video nothing to worry about, authorities say," June 17, 2023
SF Gate, "Low-flying military aircraft surprise Bay Area suburbs ahead of Biden visit,"June 18m, 2023
Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom, "California Military Installations and Operational Areas," accessed June 20, 2023
The Associated Press, "Biden raising cash in the San Francisco area as he revs up his 2024 campaign," June 19, 2023
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