In the death-throes of the old world order, the cities that had not been 'chosen' by the Consortium as Enclaves slowly fell into disrepair. These unmaintained buildings eventually began to fall in, but this destruction was hastened by the Recovery Program. After the fall, the Consortium started an ambitious building program to increase the population density of the metroplexes, and to build the walls and motorways to protect and link them. Rather than simply increasing production from mines and smelters, the consortium began to employ teams of "Breakers", who would strip a city of it's resources and leave behind only piles of rubble. A single team of breakers could strip a forty-storey building of its steel, aluminium, copper and glass in a day, and leave behind sorted piles of reclaimed materials. This refuse would be collected and transported to the manufacturing centers for reuse in building the new world order. Other teams would consume railways at a rate of thirty miles a day, and still other teams could consume asphalt and concrete roads at fifteen miles per day.
The vehicles which enabled this destruction were nicknamed "Devastators" by both the operators and the victims. These nuclear-powered four-thousand tonne tracked vehicles were mobile smelters and recyclers. They never travelled alone, and were constantly being tendered by tractors hauling away the recovered materials. Painfully slow due to their immense size, they were also heavily guarded as each cost nearly a billion dollars. In response, the equivalent of a military brigade escorts these behemoths while they are in operation. Serviced by three engineer companies, a penal company, and a support company (quartermaster, medical, payroll, traffic control, etc). The penal company is used for dirty and dangerous jobs, and has a very high turnover rate; frequently toy soldiers are assigned to the penal companies due to this danger.
The Chesapeake Exclusion Zone was created in response to the first operational loss of a Devastator to angry residents of Norfolk who objected to being forcefully relocated and having their community consumed. The damage they caused to the vehicle resulted in an uncontrolled nuclear reaction, contaminating the entire Hampton Roads area and forcing the evacuation of the military reservation.
Following this loss, only eighteen of these units remain functional, and only ten are in active use. One is stationed in Britain, four in Europe, three in Central Asia, and four in North America. The remaining eight have been held in reserve on the south-central coast of America and awaiting the re-engineering to transport them to Southern Europe and North Africa. They are so large that they cannot be moved whole across oceans, and have to either be disassembled and moved piecemeal, or retrofitted with a hull for trans-oceanic transport.