No, military helicopters are not invading California

Everybody stay calm! It's (not) happening!
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
V-22 Osprey Landing
An MV-22B Osprey, assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165 (Reinforced), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), lands on the flight deck of amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD 27), April 24, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Kates)

MV-22 Ospreys landing near residential areas. A single tank on the move. Military activity in a state with a number of military bases. Could this be normal? Or is it a sign of nefarious action, a mass takeover by the armed forces?

For one Twitter user, it’s the latter. In a tweet with 1.4 million views and more than 4,000 retweets, user Derek Broes shared video of a MV-22 landing in what allegedly was Larkspur, California, in the northern part of the Bay Area.

“BREAKING NEWS! Military landing in suburban neighbors in Larksper California,” he tweeted this morning. “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 followed that with footage of a single tank on the move in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Broes also misspelled the name of the town of Larkspur. However, despite many people pointing out that these are benign, Broes continued to post signs of “military movement.” Broes, whose account includes posts with conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 vaccines, doubled down, denying these were normal activities or drills.

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Turns out it is a drill. Or at least normal movement ahead of Biden’s visit to the Bay Area on Monday. He’s set to fundraise for his 2024 reelection campaign, meeting tech leaders in the region. 

As our colleague Tyler Rogoway, editor in chief of The War Zone, noted, given Biden’s visit there is “nothing abnormal” here.

As for the tank, the Idaho Army National Guard earlier this week announced plans to move tracked vehicles such as tanks “along state roads” on Wednesday, June 14.

Broes’ threads oddly omit the several helicopter operations and U.S. Army special operations drills taking place this past week in Southern California, including in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

This is not the first time stateside military activity has left people theorizing or afraid. In February, training in San Diego — itself home to a large military presence — left many residents freaking out about low-flying black helicopters. That followed similar events in San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Dallas-Fort Worth. Those were all far larger cases of “military movement” and were announced to the public in advance.

And there was the infamous case of Jade Helm, the 2015 special operations training exercise in the American Southwest. Conspiracy theorists claimed it was a cover for the military to occupy the United States and seize guns. People panicked, poorly done Photoshop edits of military occupation hit social media and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott even ordered the Texas State Guard to “monitor” the exercise.

Meanwhile, it’s been nearly 12 hours since Broes’ viral tweet went out and so far there are no indications California is under attack by the military.

Task & Purpose will be on the watch for any Tier-1 forklift certified operator invasions of the West Coast.-

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