After the Facebook event "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" went viral earlier this week, the federal government is continuing to warn potential raiders against attempting to overrun the top-secret military base located in the deserts of Nevada. Currently, more than 1.7 million people have pledged to attend the Sept. 20 event, which could pose a potentially fatal risk.
"Any attempt to illegally access the area is highly discouraged," Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz of Nellis Air Force Base, which oversees the area that includes Area 51, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Just like any military installation, there are different levels of security, depending on what has been picked up and what has been detected. And, obviously, the degree of response may escalate depending upon the perceived threat."
The would-be raiders, according to the event's page, are planning to "Naruto run" into the base, as "we can move faster than their bullets," though classification policy and national security expert Steven Aftergood told Yahoo News that even getting to the base will prove difficult.
"Those that try to reach it will find that it is remote, rugged and quite far removed from public roadways," Aftergood said. "People will need plenty of water, good health insurance, and possibly a lawyer."
However, even if just a handful of people do go up against the snakes, scorpions, and other dangerous animals lurking in the desert and manage to escape the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, retired U.S. Army Col. John Alexander expressed his concern.
"If somebody got far enough, that's a PR nightmare for everybody," he said. "Any physical attempt to get in will be disastrous."
In fact, in January of this year a man was shot and killed after he got too close to Area 51. The unnamed man had driven past a security checkpoint at Mercury, Nevada, prompting a chase. After he eventually stopped his vehicle and exited, he was shot by Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) officers when he approached them with a "cylindrical object" and failed to adhere to their demands to stop.
Earlier this week, Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews confirmed that the military was aware of the raid and discouraged "anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces." She added that "the U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets."
Although it remains to be seen if anybody will show up, the event is slated to be live streamed on Facebook for those unwilling to press their luck with the military.