Two separate reports, one from the U.S. military and another posted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website this week, have been issued on the heels of one another, warning of potential attacks that would affect the power grid.
In late November the U.S. military issued a report titled "Electromagnetic Defense Task Force," which sought to warn the nation that "an electromagnetic spectrum attack may be a threat to the United States, democracy, and the world order," and supported congressional testimony that an effective EMP attack, could kill 90 percent of "all Americans" within one year. (ANP referenced and embedded that report in previous articles here and here)
In that report the military warned of nuclear reactor meltdowns, displaced Americans, civil unrest that would start in "hours," failures may include long-term loss of electrical power (due to loss of emergency generators), sewage, fresh water, banking, landlines, cellular service, vehicles," and that it could take up to "18 months or more are required to replace key elements of the electric grid that would be damaged or knocked out."
Less than two weeks after that report was issued, on December 10, 2018, we see that the DHS website has published a 94-page report by the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council, titled "Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage."
The entire 94-page report is embedded at the bottom of this article.
In this most recent report, they describe the numerous "increasing threats" which could be "severe natural disasters, cyber-physical attacks, electromagnetic events, or some combination," and have concluded that "This profound threat requires a new national focus," because the NIAC found that "our existing plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by an event of this severity. Significant action is needed to prepare for a catastrophic power outage that could last for weeks or months."
The report describes what they consider a "catastrophic power outage" to be, with five bullet points.
• Events beyond modern experience that exhaust or exceed mutual aid capabilities
• Likely to be no-notice or limited-notice events that could be complicated by a cyber-physical attack
• Long duration, lasting several weeks to months due to physical infrastructure damage
• Affects a broad geographic area, covering multiple states or regions and affecting tens of millions of people
• Causes severe cascading impacts that force critical sectors—drinking water and wastewater systems, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services—to operate in a degraded state
The report calls the U.S. power grid a "prime target" for terrorists, and urges Americans to be prepared for up to six months without electricity, money, gas or even healthcare. It also warns "People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. We need to improve individual preparedness."
On page six, they described how they approached the study and where they obtained their information:
To better understand catastrophic power outages and how they are different from previously experienced disasters, the NIAC conducted a scoping effort—completed in June 2018—to identify the key issues that would need to be further explored. A Working Group of 10 NIAC members led this full study, and formed a Study Group of subject matter experts to vet and validate the results of the scoping effort and provide a crucial input. In total, we interviewed more than 60 senior leaders and subject matter experts from federal, state, and local governments, industry, academia, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). We reviewed more than 700 resources, including statutes, regulations, reports, articles, congressional testimony, and prior studies.
Then they detail the two ways they sought to address the issues they uncovered:
Our recommendations seek to address the issues identified in two overarching ways: 1) design a national approach for catastrophic power outages that provides the guidance and incentives needed to take action across all levels of government and industry and down to communities and individuals; and 2) improve our understanding of how cascading failures across critical infrastructure will impact restoration and survival, enabling us to identify further actions needed to mitigate these failures.
Offering seven key recommendations, along with an informational graphic giving an overview of those recommendations, to which the report itself spends a considerable amount of pages detailing their suggestions for implementing those recommendations.
The fact is Congress and administrations have been warned about the vulnerabilities of the grid for over a decade, yet the level of infrastructure improvements have not balanced out with the increase of threats, and have left the nation woefully unprepared for the worst case scenario.
The Washington Examiner describes the purpose of this latest study offering this latest dire warning as "an urgent call to action to organize a uniform reaction to a grid attack, harden it from attack, warn of the threats and push regular Americans into preparing for the worst."
I would simply say, this should be a wake-up call to all Americans.
Prepping is not just for "doomsday conspiracy theorists," but is instead something every American should be doing. Whether it is an extra five bucks on canned goods, medical supplies, water, batteries and other basics, each week, or more for those that can afford it, people should be taking some type action to prepare for the increasing probability that they may have to survive a significant amount of time without electricity and other basic services we take for granted.
With two government reports coming out in as many weeks, both regarding catastrophic power outages and threats, it behooves us all to pay attention and and to prepare accordingly.
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Whether it is advice on the best bartering items, the cheapest survival foods, handy tips on dollar store items that can be used in multiple ways, or favorite prepper websites with articles offering prepping ideas, everybody can use reminders, and even those that have been prepping for years can learn something new and useful from others that have been doing the same.
The new 94-page "Surviving A Catastrophic Power Outage" report, embedded below:
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