US government SHTF plans

In the case of a nuclear war or a pandemic virus kills most of the human race, the US government believes that democracy should continue on. Even if most of the population of the US is dead 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 most of the population is dead.

If you have ever considered prepping for an SHTF event, then you probably know you will need a good bug out set up. My personal suggestion is to start with a bug out kit which ahs food for at least 3-5 days Click here to check it out on

You have probably known already part of these plans because you probably know about the US president’s line of succession. If the president dies there is a list of 18 people ranging all the way from the Vice President down to the secretary of Homeland Security who would take their place. The US government has a lot of theoretical doomsday scenarios from zombies to a full-blown nuclear war, if you want to know the most likely SHTF scenarios you should check out my article 8 most likely crisis scenario examples.

The presidents line of succession

  1. Vice President
  2. Speaker of the House of Representatives
  3. President pro tempore of the Senate
  4. Secretary of the State
  5. Secretary of the Treasury
  6. Secretary of Defense
  7. Attorney General
  8. Secretary of the Interior
  9. Secretary of Agriculture
  10. Secretary of Commerce
  11. Secretary of Labour
  12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  13. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  14. Secretary of Transportation
  15. Secretary of Energy
  16. Secretary of Education
  17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  18. Secretary of Homeland Security

With such a long succession line list the chances of the US going without a president are near none. The one time a year when the entire line gathers together in 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. The line of succession is the basic stuff, which most preppers already know about.

What is far less known is the semi-secret protocols and places the government has spent billions of dollars and decades building. However, until just 60-70 years ago the US felt untouchable as at no time in history had an enemy existed as relatively close to the US as during the cold war. The US’s foreign policy always kept in mind that an ocean separated it from its enemies, but with the invention of nuclear weapons, 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 4 main bunkers from which the US government would run the country in a major SHTF scenario/

  1. Presidential Emergency Operations Center
  2. Raven Rock Mountain Complex
  3. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center
  4. 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 the president would most likely evacuate downstairs from the White House into their underground bunker but that is 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 that they should ride out an attack with the rest of the population. It is 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 could be during an attack, but morale saves lives and seeing the president braving out the fight can help create a sense of national unity that would keep the country together.

These bunkers are full of long-lasting foods, in my article Food that last for 25 years you will find that most of these food types are not some expensive food types, these are commonly found food types which if you buy in bulk will be extremely cheap.

A single person is replaceable but the government as a whole is delicate.

Raven Rock

Raven Rock Pensylvania 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 apocalyptical scale, it is likely that Martial Law would be imposed, meaning that the military would take over the day to day control over 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.

Cheyenne Mountain Complex

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex just outside of Colorado Springs would serve as home to the NORAD which is the agency responsible for controlling and tracking the skies of the US and Canada. If the above-ground world would be too dangerous for the country’s leadership these 4 underground bunkers would serve as home to the bare bones of the US government. Nearly 4.5 million people are employed by the US Federal Government and they all work to keep it running.


Where would these hundreds of agencies go? Nobody knows exactly at least publicly but what we do know how would they relocate. You might have heard of the DEFCON system as it makes a frequent appearance in movies but few have heard of COGCON.

COGCON is a readiness level system that directs agencies on how to prepare for the 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.


At COGCON 3 the relocation to an alternate facility and basic functionality goes down to 3 hours


At this level a doomsday is imminent, every agency has 3 sites to their continuity plan ABC and the agency would split into 3 corresponding teams.

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 an undisclosed facility. Each team would be ready to take over operations on a moment’s notice. The A team would continue operations for as long as possible, either until they are dead or communications are cut off.

After which the B team would seamlessly take over operations if the B team falls the C team would serve a the final chance for the survival of the government agency.

Air Force One

When the surface of the earth is unsurvivable there is one other place to go other than the underground which is the sky. The traditional Air Force One has redundancy upon redundancy and most likely dozens of classified defense measures but there is a different plain from which the president might command the country after doomsday, the Boeing E-4 Advanced Air Born 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 individuals that the enemy would attack into a few bunkers in the mountains. Surviving nuclear blast while 7 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 plains is stationed at most a couple of 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 last.

In a doomsday scenario, this plane could literally stay airborne for weeks at a time to keep the countries leadership safe. After the Armageddon, the United States’ goal would be to rebuild the country with how many survivors remained.


The future of the country after doomsday

How would the country continue in the same country when almost everybody is 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 is to say to a survivor in Texas, Oregon or Alaska that it is still the same country continuing on. What binds America together is a common culture and legacy.

Art and historical artifacts are the physical representation of this and their survival would pose a powerful message about the state of the Union. On doomsday, resources would be scares and disjointed so officials would have had to make decisions about which item to save and which would be left behind.

For example, priority would be given to the Declaration of Independence over the Constitution. Ideally, all the nation’s most important historical documents, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights would be evacuated from Washington. Grouped together they would be called “Freedom Documents Group 1” and while some high-level officials would evacuate Washington by road these 3 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 other world-ending event who knows if the population will even believe that there are still in the United States. Little distinguishes one country from another other than what people think. if you have read my article Chances of surviving a nuclear war, you probably already know that humanity, in general, will have an extremely hard time surviving after a nuclear war.

If people believe that they are part of the country of Alaska or the Kingdom of California then for the most part they are.

In Conclusion

If the principles of the separation of power, judicial review, checks and balances, limited government, federalism, and popular sovereignty live on past the end, the continuity of government plans has succeeded even if the members of the government are all dead. These plans are not about saving the president or any one person, they are about making sure the structure of democratic government continues on through thick and thin,

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