The Walking Dead Debrief: The Civic Republic Military

From the Echelon Briefing to Operation N1W, here's what to know about the CRM.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live episode 6. "Secrecy and security above all." Eliminating threats to "operational security." Extinguishing the living to preserve the "last light of the world." So were the ways of the Civic Republic Military, the shadowy three-ring group that airlifted Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) away from an exploding bridge back on season 9 of The Walking Dead. But those ways went up in smoke in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live finale, which ended with Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) delivering a fatal final blow to the CRM.

As Michonne retrieved the dossier that CRM Warrant Officer Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) left behind with intel the military could use to destroy Alexandria, Rick received the Echelon Briefing from Major General Beale (Terry O'Quinn). The briefing was first mentioned by Rick's mentor, the late Lt. Col. Okafor (Craig Tate), who told the Sgt. Maj. that the Echelon contains "all the info, the whys, the things 90% of our force doesn't know about and 100% of our city doesn't."

The Echelon Briefing

Major General Beale gave the Echelon Briefing to 2,533 elite soldiers who then joined the CRM Frontliner force, including Command Sgt. Maj. Pearl Thorne (Lesly-Ann Brandt). The CRM Force Command leader told Rick the first secret: "The most likely outcome after all the fighting and killing, all the plans and sacrifices, we lose. Most likely outcome is that we're all gonna die."

CRM modelling determined that between the dead, disease, starvation, and the discovery of million-strong zombie herds, "non-necrotic human life" has an estimated 14 years left on the planet before going extinct. On The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Elton (Nicolas Cantu) projected that humanity is fated to go the way of the dinosaurs in 15 years — placing Homo sapien extinction around the year 2035.

According to Elton, humans are "at the conclusion of the Holocene extinction," the sixth extinction event on the planet following the Late Ordovician mass extinction, the Late Devonian extinction, the End-Permian extinction, the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event, and the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. "We were already killing ourselves directly and indirectly, but nature made a shortcut," Elton told the Endlings, the last-living survivors of a soon-to-be-extinct species. "It took the dinosaurs possibly 60,000 years to die after 240 million of living, so following that ratio, given the human race's 600,000 and factoring in other miscellaneous variables, I say we have about 15 years until we're gone."

Operation N1W

Rick and Michonne also uncovered the CRM master plan to destroy Portland (also seen on World Beyond). Operation N1W would begin with the CEP (Child Evacuation Protocol), in which CRM Frontliner embeds enmeshed in the Portland school system would evacuate select children and airlift these assets away from three extraction zones. The army would then bomb the area with toxic chlorine gas and Portland's population of 87,000 would be liquidated.

"The CRM destroys communities for resources, for strategic superiority, and to ensure the city's secrecy and security above all," Beale told Rick. Jadis disclosed this fact to the Endlings on Season 2 of World Beyond, where the CRM carried out the "tactical military operations" that destroyed the Omaha Safe-Zone (population: 97,407 survivors) and its satellite community, the Campus Colony (population: 9,671). The army's final target was Portland.

The Alliance of the Three

The Civic Republic of Philadelphia (known to its allies only as the Civic Republic, the "hidden city" in an undisclosed location) was part of the Alliance of the Three: an alliance between the Civic Republic, Portland, and Omaha, represented by the three-ring symbol of the CRM. But when CRM modelling projected that the city's alliance partners would become a drain on the CR's resources, Beale ordered Omaha and Portland to be destroyed.

"Omaha, the Campus Colony, Portland had become too reliant," Jadis explained on World Beyond. "They'd never be fully self-sustaining. It was only a matter of time before thousands faced a famine of devastating proportions. At best, those thousands would have died slowly. At worst, disease and conflict would have spread through the Civic Republic itself, and then? The light of the world — extinguished forever. Death wins."

Project Votus

Though it isn't mentioned by name on The Ones Who Live, Beale indirectly referenced Project Votus while giving Rick the Echelon Briefing. Beale told Rick that the military supplied test subjects for scientific experiments to CRM-run labs, including the victims of Omaha and Campus Colony, and the people that Jadis trafficked to the CRM in exchange for supplies while operating out of the Heaps on The Walking Dead. The CRM designated people as "A's" or "B's": "A's" are leaders who are sent away and killed, and "B's" are followers trying to survive. World Beyond confirmed that "A's" were used as zombie-bitten test subjects for the CRM's Project Votus.

These experiments took place at a CR Research Facility in Ithaca, New York, under CRM scientist Dr. Lyla Belshaw (Natalie Gold). It was Belshaw who developed the lethal green liquid chlorine gas that triggers severe bronchial spasms and an excess of fluid in the lungs, effectively "drowning" the victim from the inside out.

It was revealed that Beale and then-Lt. Col. Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond) founded Project Votus two years post-outbreak in 2012. The project involved studying live test subjects through death to further research on reanimation.

A's would either die from zombie bites or be gassed, and then Belshaw would observe "what inside us makes us turn — whether it be fungal, bacterial, viral, or something else entirely." If the CRM could determine what keeps the dead animated, what slows their decomposition rates, and what feeds their appetites, Belshaw said, "We hope to one day turn off those triggers, eliminate the dead as a threat, and eradicate them from the earth."

CRM Martial Law

Before it was foiled by Rick and Michonne, Operation N1W was to be Beale's final action to make the Civic Republic Military the supreme force on the continent — and, potentially, the world. Beale told Rick that the CRM had spies in selected communities throughout North America and the world "to monitor them, to potentially sabotage them, to influence their politics and approaches," including Portland. 

The CRM would activate its operatives in Portland, destroy the community, and then declare martial law on the Civic Republic. Once the authoritarian military removed the Civic Republic Council and took control of the city, they would march across the country and eliminate competition like the Commonwealth of Ohio and the Tank Town oil fields in Texas. "We will take their resources and ensure supremacy," Beale said. "And maybe we get to survive."

World Beyond disclosed part of this plan. That series revealed that Project Votus was the "ultimate priority" for Beale to resist returning power to the Civic Republic Civilian Government ten years after the CRM — once the Pennsylvania National Guard — agreed to a transition of power. But a decade later, in 2020, Beale ordered the destruction of Omaha and Campus Colony and blamed the tragedies on the dead to force an emergency delay of civilian oversight. 

"Portland will die, and this force will take over the Civic Republic. We will begin our march on the countryside," Beale told Rick. "The Next World will begin, and through that, somehow, some way, we will survive."

The Next World

After Rick and Michonne rigged grenades to the canisters of chlorine gas to explode at the CRM summit, killing the CRM Frontliner force and CRM Force Command in a single blow, they exposed the CRM's operations and activities to the Civic Republic Council. 

A CR newscast reported that the CRC voted unanimously for emergency oversight over the remaining forces of the CRM, which were remade as a force for good. The CRM's infantry and enhanced infantry units — meaning those not among the ranks of Beale's elite squad of blood red-striped soldiers — were unaware of the atrocities committed by Force Command. It was also reported that the CRC unanimously voted for free movement in the Republic: citizens are free to leave the CR, and the city will welcome new citizens and provide aid to other communities and survivors. The last light of the world burns anew.

Stay tuned to ComicBook/TWD and follow on Facebook for more TWD Universe coverage.