What Keeps The Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Awake At Night?

What Keeps The Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense Awake At Night?

Ever wonder what perils and threats keeps senior defense officials up at night?  Well you don’t have to guess anymore what keeps the Department of Defense’ Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs (how does that title even fit on a business card?), Paul Stockton up because he told us.

 Speaking candidly at the Aspen Security Forum, one defense department official (Stockton) expressed great concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack on the U.S. electric grid that would cause a “long term, large scale outage.”

…The concern, Stockton continued, was that America’s adversaries would avoid attacking “the pointy end of the spear,” meaning combat troops, and would instead look for homeland, possibly non-military, targets.“Our adversaries, state and non-state, are not stupid. They are clever and adaptive,” Stockton said. “There is a risk that they will adopt a profoundly asymmetric (including cyberattack) strategy, reach around and attack us home…

via DoD official: Vulnerability of U.S. electrical grid is a dire concern – CNN Security Clearance – CNN.com Blogs.

Stockton’s worries for the electrical grid weren’t just from terrorism but also from magnetic storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters. “According to Stockton, a recurrence of a massive earthquake, like the New Madrid earthquake(s) of (1811 and) 1812, would cause a power outage for weeks to months across a multi-state area, (and) rolling blackouts in the East Coast…”

In response to a scenario like this, Stockton told the crowd that the Department of Defense is working with power companies in the Washington area – namely Pepco, Baltimore Gas and Electric and Virginia Dominion – and giving these companies “a new design basis for the grid of the future that takes into account cyber threats and other emerging threats.”

via DoD official: Vulnerability of U.S. electrical grid is a dire concern – CNN Security Clearance – CNN.com Blogs.

 

I understand the need to secure and resource the seat of command…but what about the heartland?  I hope that the recent derecho storm damage and resulting power outage wasn’t indicative of how the electrical grid of the future is going to power the seat of government.

As a Department of Defense official Stockton also discussed advances in what’s called ‘civil support,’ a term for U.S. military support to domestic civil authorities (overseas we call similar types of operations ‘civil affairs’).

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