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So in my world, the entire White House area has been turned into a small fortress/FOB. Due to the post-apocalyptic dystopian state of my world what with zombies, breakaway secessionist states, hostile militias, bandits, etc. roving around in the ruins of modern civilization after the Great Collapse (2006-2010), the White House has been converted into a small fortress manned by a joint Secret Service-US Garrison (essentially the US military consolidated into a single branch) detachment numbering in at over 500 Troopers and Secret Service agents. The President of the United States still lives and works in the White House (and no, the remnants of the United States aren’t a dictatorship, elections still happen) along with the First Family and civilian federal employees are also working in there too.

And yes I know that the White Houde already has a crazy stupid amount of security already but I was thinking of adding watch towers, gates, one or two helipads, barbed wire, machine gun nests, defensive barriers like HESCO blocks, etc.

But in an emergency scenario, how effective would the White House serve as a base of operations/FOB? Can it actually work or no?

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    $\begingroup$ What is the emergency scenario? Sbarbudarians invading US? Shortage of toilet paper? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 13 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica mostly zombies and the Virginia Federation (secessionist military dictatorship that rivals the US, or at least whatever remains of her). $\endgroup$
    – user69268
    Jan 13 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ If the "secessionist military dictatorship" has anything resembling a modern army, where "modern" means after 1880 or so, then almost any kind of above-ground structure is a liability and utterly unsuitable as a fortress or whatever. (The only exception which comes to mind is the demented Nazi flak towers, notorious for having so much reinforced concrete that after the war they proved impossible to demolish with explosives... But those don't resemble the White House at all.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 13 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ How is that not a real-world scenario, and thus prohibited? From the point of view of the White House defenders, how could it matter whether the bad guys were zombies, breakaway secessionist states, hostile militias, bandits or anything else? $\endgroup$ Jan 14 at 1:10
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    $\begingroup$ You'd be better off using the Capitol building. It's on a hill, more clearspace around it, and it's only been breached once in over 200 years. $\endgroup$ Jan 14 at 1:11
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The White House was fortified well before the apocalypse.

green zone

https://mideastconflicts.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/mortar-shells-explode-in-fortified-district-housing-us-embassy-in-baghdad/

Depicted: the Green Zone in Iraq. This area was heavily fortified for use as a base of operations during American involvement in Iraq. It was not always heavily fortified. The US made it that way because they wanted a secure base.

In your world a similar process took place around the Whitehouse. When it began. there were not yet zombies but there were secessionist zealots and violent parties with various motivations, and the White House was just too weak. Serial improvements were made, with the end result being the fortress you want to have at the time of your fiction.

I like the idea that tagging the wall of the White Zone is a point of pride for locals in the area. The exterior wall is very creatively decorated.

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No, it wouldn't work: It's too small, it's too hemmed in, it's too vulnerable, and it takes too many resources to bother overcoming those shortcomings.

Too expensive: A defensive fortification located at the crossroads of multiple high-speed avenues of approach and overlooked by lots of other nearby taller buildings will require tremendous effort to keep secure. There must be a solid reason to expend all that effort, since it might be used for greater effect elsewhere.

Too small: The White House grounds (north lawn + building + south lawn) are about the right size to house a battalion-sized force without vehicles...but that leaves no working space for the rump-President's staff (if any).

Too vulnerable: The area is too small for a useful ammunition storage bunker, or for safe bulk fuel storage. Seems like we can assume that city power/water/sewer/trash are unreliable (if available at all), because functioning cities don't need big fortresses smack in the middle. Therefore the garrison will need daily resupply convoys of food, water, fuel, and ammunition, and daily export of trash/sewage. It's highly vulnerable to any machinations or events that cut off that resupply, which is a serious vulnerability!

Too vulnerable: If you want that battalion to have armored vehicles, you need to include Lafayette Park and The Ellipse for maintenance, fueling, and vehicle parking. Of course, this makes your perimeter much, much larger. Gone are the green lawns and park benches, long ago replaced by acres of gravel or pavement.

Too hemmed in: For eye-in-the-sky, the base will need a tethered aerostat. However, those are hard to launch/land in urban environments, since buildings tend to channel the wind. And you can't leave it up forever since high winds will snap the tether. You need the high view to identify point-of-origin for incoming indirect fire: A team of baddies can pop mortars inside your base from a pickup truck on 15th Street, lofting them right over the Treasury Building. Unless the garrison can observe them and direct a response, they will be vulnerable: They will take plenty of unnecessary casualties and morale will similarly suffer.

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You certainly wouldn't want the White House to be a Forward Operating Base and primary residence of POTUS and the First Family at the same time. The White House is enabled for communications with just about any place they need the President to issue orders too and is physically hardened, but there are numerous instances of perimeter breaches of the fence and building by a lone actor at the same time. Getting POTUS out is top priority in a horde of Zombies scenarios. More likely, POTUS and his family would be moved to one of the Presidential Planes and flown to a military base or base(s) if DC was compromised. Likely the SAM 28000 or SAM 29000 planes (Air Force One is the callsign of any airforce operated plane with the President on board it. The Planes commonly referred to as Air Force One are identical specially modified Boeing 747 jets with livery of the Office of POTUS on it. When POTUS is not onboard, their callsigns are SAM 28000 and SAM 29000.)

Less likely, but optional is that POTUS but not the First Family would board an Operation Nightwatch E-4 (also a modified 747 that functions as an Airborne command post for senior military leadership, up to and including the President) though this move is quite dire (The President rarely if ever will get to see inside and it's only used as a back up for the SAM Air Force One planes or if the nation is going to Nuclear War. The President is never used in drills of getting to the E-4 planes as they are watched by other nations closely and the president making an unannounced boarding of one is going to panic a lot of cold war enemies. Given your scenario is not likely Nuclear, it's not the most stratigic move.

In terms of where the President stays on ground, I would look at what was done during 9/11 with respect to Presidient Bush's safety. Bush has said in numerous interviews his priorty was to get back to DC but his personal security wouldn't let him initially, taking him to two Air Force bases (first Barksdale AFB, LA, due to location, then Offutt AFB, Nebraska (where Nightwatch had more E-4 planes stationed)). While the Andrews AFB E-4 was reported to be circling D.C. during the attack, Bush never boarded any E-4 planes that day.

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