Walter Reed National Medical Center was locked down on Tuesday amid reports of a possible active shooter on the campus, although officials later said the scare was nothing more than an exercise.
The Navy's official Twitter account, for example, said it was an "ad hoc drill by tenant command."
That claim was news to many people in the area, however. Among them was Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), who was visiting the facility at the time and tweeted that he was locked down in a conference room with roughly 40 other people.
After the all clear was given, he said, "at no point was there any indication that this was a drill." Indeed, according to AP, hospital employees heard an announcement over the loudspeaker at the time, "Active shooter, this is not a drill!"
Some people in the vicinity of Walter Reed had received phone alerts at around 2:15 p.m. EST Tuesday telling them an active shooter was in the basement of Building 19 at the base.
"If you are on the installation, go to the nearest available vehicle, structure, or building that provides a measure of protection and lockdown," the alert said.
Naval Support Activity Bethesda also shared the message, and updated its Facebook page at 2:20 p.m. saying that first responders were on the scene. "Initial reports indicate there are no signs of an active shooter," it said.
All base gates had been closed, and service members and civilian employees were still on lock down as of 3 p.m. The all clear was given at 3:20 p.m., and the base was reopened at 3:39.
A Pentagon spokeswoman told Task & Purpose during the lock down that it was an exercise. But it's clear there were plenty of people who didn't get the memo.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.